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LACMA Appeals to State Leadership to Save MLK Community Hospital

Updated: Jun 27

On June 14, 2024, the Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA) sent a compelling letter to California's legislative leadership, including Governor Gavin Newsom, urging immediate action to prevent the closure of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLK) in South Los Angeles.

 

The letter highlights the hospital's critical role in providing high-quality care to a predominantly low-income and underserved population since its reopening in 2015. With a special emphasis on its award-winning maternity ward, MLK Community Hospital has been a beacon of hope for expectant mothers in an area that has seen the closure of 17 maternity wards in the past four years. The hospital faces a dire financial situation, running a $42 million deficit last year and struggling with Medi-Cal reimbursements that cover only 71% of delivery costs.

 

LACMA's letter calls for a $25 million increase in state funding to ensure the hospital's continued operation. This funding is crucial to maintain essential maternal and emergency healthcare services, which are vital to mitigating health disparities in South Los Angeles. Without this support, thousands of residents risk losing access to critical healthcare services, exacerbating existing health inequities.

 

The letter underscores the urgent need for legislative support to secure the future of MLK Community Hospital, emphasizing that its closure would not only be a financial setback but also a significant public health crisis for the community.

 

Read the full letter below:

 

 

 

June 14, 2024
 
Governor Gavin Newsom
1021 O Street, Suite 900
Sacramento, CA 95814
 
Dear Governor Newsom,
 
I am writing to you on behalf of the Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA) to urgently request your support in preventing the closure of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLK) in South Los Angeles. The potential loss of this hospital would have dire consequences for the community, particularly for pregnant women who rely on MLK's vital maternity services.
 
Since its reopening in 2015, MLK Community Hospital has provided exceptional care to a predominantly low-income and underserved population. The hospital has earned praise for its high-quality services, particularly in its award-winning maternity ward. This ward is one of the few remaining options for expectant mothers in South Los Angeles, an area that has already seen the closure of 17 maternity wards in the past four years. The importance of MLK’s maternity services cannot be overstated.
 
MLK Community Hospital is facing significant financial challenges. The hospital ran a $42 million deficit last year, exacerbated by a tripling of emergency room patients since its opening. A recent $20 million grant from Los Angeles County helped keep it open until next summer, but it will not address the underlying funding issues. Medi-Cal reimburses MLK about 71% of the cost of delivery, contributing to an annual loss of over $2 million for the maternity ward.
 
The closures of neighboring maternity wards further strain MLK’s resources. These closures disproportionately affect low-income Black and Latino communities, who already face some of the worst pregnancy-related complications and mortality outcomes in the state. MLK’s continued operation is essential to mitigating these disparities.
 
We are calling for a $25 million increase in state funding to support MLK Community Hospital. This funding is crucial to ensuring the hospital can continue to provide its essential services to the South Los Angeles community. Legislative support at both the state assembly and senate levels, as well as from the governor, is critical in taking immediate action.
 
The survival of MLK is not just a matter of financial stability; it is a matter of public health and equity. The hospital’s closure would leave thousands of residents without access to essential maternal and emergency healthcare services, exacerbating existing health disparities. The lives and well-being of women and babies in our community are at significant risk without this support.
 
We understand that the state faces a budget deficit, but the stakes are too high to ignore. The closure of MLK would set us back to a time when residents of South Los Angeles lacked access to nearby hospital care. We cannot allow this to happen. Your support in allocating $25 million in the state budget to support MLK Community Hospital and help restructure its funding model is essential in maintaining the health and safety of our community.
 
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. We look forward to your positive response and collaboration to keep MLK Community Hospital open.
 
Sincerely,
 
Gustavo Friederichsen, CEO
Los Angeles County Medical Association 
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