King-Harbor ousts medical chief, considers closure

The fallout continued this week at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, which is struggling to cope with entrenched management and personnel problems. This week, the hospital's chief medical officer was replaced, following the highly-publicized death of a patient waiting for attention in the hospital's ED. Dr. Roger Peeks, who was brought in to overhaul the troubled hospital's medical operations, has been placed on "ordered absence" by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and replaced by top health department official Dr. Robert Splawn. The hospital has also reported that more than 40 percent of licensed vocational nurses and nursing assistants had recently failed initial skills tests.

At this point, the Board of Supervisors is talking about closing the facility, which serves many of the county's poorest neighborhoods. But even if the hospital wins back the Board's approval, it may have no choice but to close if it doesn't make an extremely rapid turnaround. Last week, King-Harbor failed a CMS inspection; it was given 23 days to improve or risk losing its federal certification. CMS descended on King-Harbor after it learned of the death of Edith Isabel Rodriguez, who died on its ED floor of a perforated bowel after waiting 45 minutes for medical attention.

To learn more about King-Harbor's ongoing troubles:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

ALSO: As Rodriguez died, patients called 911 in an effort to get her the help she needed. Article