Staffers entering and leaving the hospital Saturday said they thought they would pass the inspection, which was unannounced and took place between July 31 and Aug. 10.
Other staffers raged at Navigant Consulting Inc., the hospital turnaround firm that the county paid more than $17 million to overhaul King/Drew.
Molina shared their disgust. "Navigant was the biggest waste of time," she said. "They said, 'We can fix it.' They were more interested in keeping the money rolling in."
The staffers, most of whom declined to be identified for fear of losing their jobs, described the mood at the hospital as depressing. "Everyone is on edge," one contract nurse said.
Sitting and smoking on the sidewalk in front of King/Drew, some patients vehemently defended the hospital, saying the entire South Los Angeles area would suffer if it closed.
With his heavily bandaged left leg propped up in front of him, PK Dip praised the 252-bed medical center for piecing his limbs back together.
Two weeks ago, gunshots shattered one of his legs and injured the other. The 23-year-old Compton resident said he was rushed to King/Drew by ambulance, even though its trauma unit was no longer open.
If he'd had to go to Lynwood's St. Francis Medical Center, which is farther away, things might have gone differently, Dip said.
"By the grace of God, they took me," said Dip, who has had two surgeries and faces two more. "This hospital has been here for years and years . You may look at it as a bad hospital. But it's a good hospital. You got to look at what they've done."
That's what Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Los Angeles) continues to believe, and she said she is gearing up to try to save King/Drew.
The congresswoman said she received a personal call Friday afternoon from Mark McClellan, outgoing head of the Medicare agency, telling her about the hospital's failure of the inspection. McClellan, she said, assured her that there is still some "wiggle room" for King/Drew.
"Dr. McClellan is still open to any recommendations or suggestions," said Millender-McDonald, who declined to specify what the "wiggle room" might be.
She plans to hold a community meeting at King/Drew on Monday to pass along the latest news.
County supervisors plan to hold their own private emergency meeting Monday. On Saturday, aides to Supervisors Don Knabe, Zev Yaroslavsky and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke — whose district includes King/Drew — said their bosses would not comment until after that meeting. Supervisor Mike Antonovich was not available because he was returning home from China.
Molina said she didn't know whether her plan for turning King/Drew over to someone else would even work.
The supervisors had been so confident that the hospital was improving, she said, that they had not been focusing on alternatives should it fail the inspection.
"Our contingency plan was prayers and hopes and aspirations that we would pass," she said.