Lynwood : Medical Center Sues County

St. Francis Medical Center has sued the County of Los Angeles because, the medical center claims, it was led to believe that it would be named a trauma center but was denied that status after having made expensive preparations.

A hearing has been scheduled for April 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The suit was filed Feb. 24 and asks that the court order the county Department of Health Services and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to immediately designate the medical center a trauma facility.

Named in the suit are Robert Gates, county director of health services, and the five county supervisors.

"The medical center was assured all along that it would be designated as a Level II trauma center. Money and time was spent. The county can't just pull the rug from under us," said Patrick K. Moore, the attorney representing the medical center.

St Francis was approved as a trauma facility by the county Emergency Medical Services Commission in January, 1985, and its administrators were led to believe that this approval would be "rubber-stamped" by the Board of Supervisors, the suit alleges.

The hospital then began remodeling, purchased equipment, negotiated contracts with surgeons, neurosurgeons, and anesthesiologists, set up committees to implement the trauma program and established an extensive education program that cost more than $267,000 and consumed more than 5,810 hours of staff time, the suit says.

In July, 1985, the medical center was informed that it would not be recommended to the supervisors as a trauma center, the suit says.

The county is reviewing the lawsuit and has no comment, said Toby Milligan, public information officer for the Department of Health Services.

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