Los Angeles hospital on 'brink of closure'

MLK Community Hospital in Los Angeles could face closure as it continues to deal with overwhelming patient volumes that exceed the safety net hospital's capacity.

Community representatives, state lawmakers, and more than 36 providers, nurses and employees gathered to express their concerns over the hospital's status during a June 7 press conference, according to a June 7 MLK Community Healthcare news release. 

"MLKCH is one of the last [hospitals] providing critical front-line services to our residents. Yet it is on the brink of closure," California Assemblymember Mike Gipson said during the conference.

This is not the first time that the hospital has divulged struggles that could lead to potential closure. Last November, hospital leaders shared that the facility was at risk of running out of money to pay its bills in early 2024. 

Mr. Gipson also pointed to the "critical lack" of maternity care services in South Los Angeles, with MLK Community Hospital remaining one of the few facilities to run a maternity ward in the area. 

However, without an increase in state funding, the hospital could now run dry of operational revenue by early 2025.

When the hospital opened in 2015 with state funding, around 30,000 annual visits were projected for its 29-bed emergency department. The hospital saw four times that amount of annual visits in 2023, with 76% of the visits coming from Medi-Cal, which does not repay full care costs to providers, the release said. 

"We lose money on every one of those patient visits—a significant amount." Elaine Batchlor, MD, CEO of MLK Community Healthcare, said in the release. "As the volume grew and continues to grow, we began to lose more and more money."

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