American Renaissance

5 Leaders at King/Drew Being Fired

Others are expected to be disciplined over lapses that have endangered or led to the deaths of patients.

Steve Hymon and Charles Ornstein, L. A. Times, Mar. 16

Los Angles County officials are in the process of firing five top leaders at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center — including the hospital’s administrator — in response to mounting troubles at the public hospital in Willowbrook, according to people familiar with the dismissals.

The termination notices follow a series of disclosures about lapses in care at King/Drew that have endangered patients and, according to government inspectors, contributed to at least five deaths in the last year.

Supervisor Don Knabe said that the terminations represented an unusually large purge of a county institution.

“Usually you lose a CEO or one or two of the top people,” he said. “But King/Drew has significant issues. It just can’t go on like it has been. If you look at the history of some of the investigations and lawsuits, it was the same ol’, same ol’, and nothing was changing.”

The county is sending termination notices to Willie T. May, King/Drew’s chief executive; associate medical director Dr. Alfred Forrest; nursing director Rosemary Haggins; and one of her top assistants, said those familiar with the firings, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

County officials also have sent a letter of termination to Dr. Arthur Fleming, who presided over the training of aspiring surgeons last year when a national body stripped the program of its accreditation.

Fred Leaf, chief operating officer of the county health department, informed the Board of Supervisors in writing Friday that the department had started notifying “a number of senior managers at King/Drew” that they would be fired.

Neither he nor his boss, health director Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, would comment further on who was terminated or why, citing confidentiality restrictions.

But the actions were applauded by some of the facility’s supporters.

“Something has to be done to save the hospital,” said state Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), who heads the Assembly special committee looking into King/Drew. “Obviously some drastic action has to be taken, and some people are going to be very unhappy. They’re moving in the right direction.”

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