Posted on October 13, 2004

‘Killer King’ and Its Defenders

Joe R. Hicks and David A. Lehrer, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 12


There has been a pattern of problems at King/Drew [Hospital], including reports of medication mix-ups, charges of undertrained and unsupervised nurses, claims of shaky business dealings and error-filled patient charts and employee records. Most troubling of all, there are reports that patients have been left unattended and, in some cases, that negligent care contributed to patient deaths.

Why have the county supervisors, who oversee the hospital, allowed these conditions to fester for years? Why have they only recently begun to act, voting to close the trauma center at King/Drew? Why hasn’t Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, who represents the Watts/Willowbrook area, which King/Drew serves, been kicking and screaming for years about such conditions?

Our suspicion is that supervisors deferred to Burke and feared that addressing the problems at King/Drew would be viewed as racially insensitive. Not a bad hunch, because black community activists for years have succeeded in making the hospital into racial turf, using race as a convenient bulwark against scrutiny whenever the hospital’s practices were questioned.