South LA’s Martin Luther King Community hospital in jeopardy of closing – NBC Los Angeles

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The survival of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLK) in South Los Angeles is in jeopardy, prompting a call for urgent financial aid.

Hospital leaders and local officials emphasized that the health of the community, especially for pregnant women, hangs in the balance. Pregnant women in South LA face dwindling healthcare options, and MLK’s maternity ward is one of the few still operating.

The hospital is struggling to keep its doors open amidst rising patient numbers and financial deficits.

Activist Sweet Alice Harris emphasizes the critical role of MLK, stressing that South LA cannot revert to a time when residents lacked nearby hospital access. Doctors, nurses, and community leaders gathered to advocate for increased state support.

“We call on my colleagues in both houses, the state assembly, the state senate, and our governor to do what is right,” said Assembly Member Mike Gipson.

MLK is requesting a $25 million increase in state funding. The hospital faces a daunting $42 billion deficit, driven by a tripling in the number of emergency room patients since its opening in 2015.

The closure of 17 maternity wards in Los Angeles County over the past four years has also led to a surge in expectant mothers seeking care at MLK.

“We have an award-winning maternity service with better outcomes than most other hospitals,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of MLK Community Hospital. “It is essential for women in our community to have a safe place, and this is that place.”

The hospital occupies the former site of King/Drew Medical Center, which closed in 2005 following multiple sanctions for poor care. MLK Community Hospital, however, has earned praise for its high level of care, particularly in its maternity ward. Dr. Batchlor warns that without additional funding, the hospital will run out of money early next year.

“What’s at stake here is the care for our community,” said Dr. Batchlor. “The lives of women and babies in our community are at risk.”

Despite a $45 billion state budget deficit, Assembly Member Gipson remains hopeful.

“Our backs are against the wall, but where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said Gipson.

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