Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blacks, Latinos and the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center

John L. Mitchell:

When its doors opened seven years after the 1965 Watts riots, the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center was a symbol of pride and achievement in the largely segregated black enclaves of South L.A., galvanized by a thirst for more jobs, education and healthcare.

Today there is still a strong commitment to the troubled institution, which faces a best-case scenario of becoming a smaller hospital under the management of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. But the crisis has exposed fissures among the black leadership of South L.A., King/Drew's historical backers, highlighting a lack of cohesiveness among politicians, including the regions' three African American congresswomen.

The crisis has also raised questions about whether this leadership can deal with a hospital whose mission has evolved: Initially it was a black institution serving a largely black population; now it serves a region that is increasingly populated by Latino immigrants.

The current political leadership has been criticized for not being up to the task and for regarding King/Drew as a legacy, rather than a hospital.

"King is a monument to race-based politics, and race-based politics is dying and King is dying," said J. Eugene Grigsby, an urban planner who heads the National Health Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding innovative approaches to healthcare in underserved areas.

"We are a community looking for direction," he said. "Until we recognize that the black community can't survive unless it becomes interdependent with other communities, we will be increasingly marginalized."

Black Los Angeles experienced a renaissance during the post-civil rights 1970s, a period of economic prosperity and political accomplishments, a period when some racial barriers were overcome.

South Los Angeles was still largely segregated, but more blacks were being elected to political office, among them Tom Bradley, who was elected to his first term as mayor of Los Angeles a year after King/Drew opened. The start of the massive influx of Latino immigrants was a decade away.

King/Drew, in Willowbrook just south of Watts, was part of that black renaissance, but almost from the beginning, the hospital was beset with problems, its medical accomplishments tarnished by a pattern of neglect and incompetence that over time earned the hospital the nickname "Killer King." In 2005, the Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for a five-part series exposing conditions at the hospital, which was rated among the worst in the nation.

LA County leaders approve plan to downsize troubled hospital

Feds to King/Drew: Oh, Okay, Just ONE More Chance


14 Out of 23 Ain't Bad: King Drew Blows It Again


At 10:28 AM, Blogger Robert Beltran, M.D. said...

Re: Race, Politics and L.A. Medical Care (November 7,2006)

Why did the presumed alliance between Blacks and Latinos never become a reality for King Drew Medical Center? This must be the starting point for the new MLK/Harbor Community hospital.

This new community hospital is a “historically-Black, Latino serving institution.” We all need to respect and honor our past and collaborate, integrate the future. Our political and medical Latino Leadership is poised to walk this journey together-Mano a Mano!!!

Latino Med Policy Institute
Robert A. Beltran, M.D. M.B.A., FACMQ, FAIHQ
Manuel Sanchez, J.D.
Edward Lazo, DPM, MBA, MFA

At 1:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have sat at Harbor General Hospital, in the waiting room, for 34 hours, with a friend, who almost died from complications of diabetes because they were too busy to see him. I have worked at USC county hospital and witnessed horrific things, similar to what happened at K-Harbor. I have seen it across the country, in county, city and federal hospitals. The problem is not King, as you all know, it's the system that you have put in place, that has destroyed the dedication and morale of the health care professionals, that has overburdened the doctors to save your pathetic system dollars that should be going towards proper staffing and the training given to private employees in the private sector. If this had not been caught on tape there would be no discussions. I worked at King as a physician 20 years ago and people died just as they will die in the future. This hullabaloo is to pass the keys to Harbor, a white hospital, who will get a pass for all of the deaths that will still occur in the King emergency room. No one cares and now that lack of caring, thanks to government policy, has infected the health care profession. There is no compassion in socialism and if this perverted and ignorant society has not learned that from history than it will never learn and will continue to pass the buck and shrug the blame. From the hospital staff, to the workers, to the police to the bystanders, the callousness of what happened to Rodriquez is a reflection of poor infrastructure and typical government incompetence. If one doctor would have been called to the area, the patient would have been taken to surgery and possibly saved. It is that simple. Many of the ER ancillary staff at King has always been calloused and mean spirited. They will only change when forced to do so and with hand slaps that ain't happening anytime soom. Had this been a little white girl or a white woman, a Nifong action would be occuring right about now. Since the whole of the government is incompetent, nothing has changed or will change. The buck will be passed, the blame shifted and the beat will go on. How pathetic is that? As for a black hispanic alliance? Pleeeeze. There is no such things. Blacks are American citizens with no country. Hispanics are invaders with government support and a country aligned with the White house. Hispanics generally hate blacks and kill them for sport. Alliance? They didn't forge King Drew, blacks did and they will have it handed to them on a silver platter.


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