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King Hospital is up and running


Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) opened this week in Watts ready to serve 1.35 million residents of South Los Angeles regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

The new privately-owned facility is now fully licensed and accredited.

The hospital is a state-of-the art facility with new equipment, technology, staff and administration. It features 131 beds, including 93 medical/surgical beds, 20 intensive care beds and 18 obstetrical beds. In-patient specialties will include cardiology, emergency services, gastroenterology, general medicine, general surgery, infectious diseases, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), pathology, radiology, pulmonary medicine and urology. The medical staff includes six hospital-based physician groups that will be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We designed this hospital from the ground up to meet the urgent health needs of our community, and we are eager to welcome them,” said Elaine Batchlor, MD, MPH and chief executive officer. “Working with our staff, physicians, and partners at the County of Los Angeles and the University of California healthcare system, we are bringing compassionate, collaborative quality care to South Los Angeles.”

The hospital completed licensure by the California Department of Public Health, and accreditation by the Joint Commission, the latter  being a national agency that monitors healthcare organizations and promoting the “highest standards of quality and patient safety.”

The emergency room, labor and delivery and other hospital services opened for patient care on July 7.

“This hospital will be a leading model of innovative, collaborative, community health care,” Batchlor said. “We have assembled a world-class healthcare team that includes highly-qualified clinical leaders and a diverse, multilingual staff. MLKCH will be a leading force in addressing the long-standing health disparities in our community.”

Hoping to gain a clear understanding of the services needed and the number of patients that will use the newly opened facility, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has asked the Department of Health Services to work with the hospital’s leadership to compile quarterly reports on the number of emergency room visits, hospital occupancy rates and average lengths of stay for patients.

“It is critical that we in the county have this data at our disposal to determine whether additional investments for in-patient services and facilities are required to meet the needs of the surrounding community and service area,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion that was approved. “The opening of this new, state of the art facility has always been the first phase of more to come. We will continue building for the future of this hospital and the other facilities on the MLK campus as it is needed. This community will not be neglected.”

In addition, the medical campus surrounding the hospital offers an outpatient center for preventive care, a mental health urgent care center to help patients with psychiatric services, a Center for Public Health offering vaccinations and reproductive health information and soon a recuperative care center for homeless patients to recover after being released from the hospital. There will also be a medical office building for doctors to see patients, and an autism center. and more.