Hospital in African-American area is one of the worst in the nation
Founded in a largely African American area in the wake of the Watts riots, the medical center was seen as a symbol of hope, a testament to racial justice in healthcare and a jobs engine for a struggling region.
But soon after it opened in 1972, the hospital became mired in problems, and it eventually gained the moniker "Killer King." Over the years, it attracted publicity for patient care failures, some of which resulted in deaths.
The latest problems began in 2003, and within months the hospital was found to be out of compliance with minimum federal standards for patient care.
It has failed a dozen inspections since.
A series of articles in The Times in December 2004 found that, by many measures, the hospital was one of the worst in the nation.
The newspaper also found that the medical center was protected by a Board of Supervisors that ducked responsibility for making changes in part because members were afraid of being branded racist.
Since 2004, the supervisors and the county health department have tried various reforms: closing the hospital's busy trauma center to take pressure off the hospital; spending more than $20 million on outside consultants; disciplining hundreds of staffers; and, most recently, slashing services and putting the medical center under the oversight of Harbor-UCLA, a sister public hospital with a better reputation.
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