Had it been politically feasible, she said, she would have sided with other compromise proposals, such as one drafted by Los Angeles City Councilman Martin Ludlow to reduce the load on the trauma center without closing it.
In testimony to the board, Ludlow and other elected officials, including Waters, City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa and Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Carson), all urged the board to hire more nurses at the hospital, saying that measure — not closing the trauma center — would solve its primary problems.
"There's no way that we can have quality healthcare when over 200 nursing slots have not been filled," Millender-McDonald said.
But board members were not swayed by that argument.
Nor were they deterred by protests. Board members have said in the past that they have been intimidated by pressure from the community surrounding the hospital. There have been racial overtones to some of that pressure, reflecting King/Drew's history as an institution built in response to the 1965 Watts riots and run primarily by African Americans.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky acknowledged the board's failures Tuesday, saying the supervisors had been reluctant in the past to even talk about problems at King/Drew.
"This is the first time since I've been on the board when there has been an honest, if not painful, discussion about what's going on at that hospital," he said, "and it's long overdue."
Yaroslavsky, who voted to close the unit along with Antonovich and Supervisors Don Knabe and Gloria Molina, added that the board's objective now was "to restore this hospital to a level of service, a quality of service, that is not just standard — I hope better than standard . It isn't that way now, and we've got to fix it."
"But it's your fault!" yelled someone in the audience.
Although there were outbursts from the crowd throughout the meeting — and it ended with chants of "Save King/Drew!" giving way to "No justice, no peace!" — there was little of the surging sense of excitement that pervaded last week's marathon hearing.
Celes King IV, vice chairman of the California Congress of Racial Equality, said that many in the crowd realized they had little chance of persuading the board to keep the trauma center open, but felt that the issue was too important to stay away.
"We're making a statement," he said. "We're still here. We're going to fight. Because people are going to die because of this decision."
He said that immediately after the vote he would contact lawyers who have already sued the county over the planned shutdown. Doctors at the hospital and community activists intended to ask a judge to halt the closure while the suit progressed, he said.
As the crowd filed out of the auditorium at the end of Tuesday's meeting, Mollie Bell, a Compton postal worker, turned to the disheartened residents.
"Have they seen the last of us?" she yelled.
"No!" shouted the crowd.
"Don't give up," she exhorted. "Don't feel bad."