The Los Angeles County hospital industry has been rocked by several changes in recent years:
Santa Barbara-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. is created through a merger, and eventually becomes the largest single hospital owner in Los Angeles County with more than a dozen hospitals.
Facing a $1 billion deficit, considers shutting down busy L.A. County-USC Medical Center. The hospital is saved by a $300 million emergency infusion from the Clinton Administration. Debate begins on whether a required replacement hospital should be smaller.
A Wall Street analyst raises questions about the Tenet’s Medicare reimbursement practices, triggering a government fraud investigation and a company financial crisis that forces it to sell off hospitals.
JANUARY – DECEMBER 2004
Six struggling hospitals with emergency rooms close, including Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center in Hawthorne. The emergency room at the Sherman Way campus of Northridge Hospital Medical Center also closes.
Despite intense community opposition, the trauma center at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center closes after inspectors determine the hospital is out of compliance with minimum federal safety standards.
Tenet pays nearly $1 billion to resolve accusations it defrauded the Medicare system. Ultimately, Tenet sells off 14 hospitals in Los Angeles County mostly to physician-led investor groups, some of which turn out to be under-capitalized. Sales are completed in 2008.
Despite new management, MLK closes as an acute care hospital in August after failing repeated inspections and more high-profile patient deaths. Only an outpatient clinic now operates on site.
Century City Doctor’s Hospital, a former Tenet facility taken over by a doctor’s group, closes in August, becoming the 15th hospital with an emergency room to close in the past decade.
L.A.. County-USC Medical Center is set to open in November to a modern, but smaller 600-bed facility in Boyle Heights. Private hospitals they will have to care for more MediCal and uninsured residents.