Dedication ceremony held for new Martin Luther King Jr. hospital


When it opened in 1972, King/Drew hospital was seen as a victory of the civil rights era and a source of pride for black Los Angeles.

But after the hospital failed several inspections and patients died due to staff errors, the South L.A. hospital was forced to close its doors.

Eight years later, a new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital has opened in its place.


Just after 9 a.m., hospital administrators and elected officials crowded in front of a giant red ribbon, poised to inaugurate the new hospital.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Councilman Curren Price, Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), former L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina and current Supervisors Hilda Solis, Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas were among the group.

Ridley-Thomas, who represents the district including the hospital, cut the ribbon and then led a procession across the street.

About a hundred people, many of whom were holding hands, marched away from the hospital, led by a band of drummers.

They gathered under a huge white tent for the dedication ceremony to begin.

Ridley-Thomas said earlier the opening “marks the beginning of a new era in healthcare delivery in the Willowbrook community and beyond.”

In 2007, the federal government pulled its funding from King/Drew, and county officials voted to shut down the hospital. They almost immediately began developing strategies to reopen it.


The original promise was to reboot the hospital by 2009, but that was pushed further and further back as officials struggled to find funding for a relaunch. At one point, Molina told The Times, “It will not happen in my lifetime.”

But county officials eventually figured out a way to reopen it. They would provide the money to rebuild the hospital as well as ongoing financial support -- $68 million annually -- and the University of California would help staff it. The hospital itself, however, would be run by an independent, nonprofit organization.

The new 131-bed facility is about one-third the size of the old medical center. But it’s part of a campus that now has an expanded outpatient clinic, a new urgent-care psychiatric center and a new public health clinic, where patients can get sexually transmitted disease testing, immunizations and other preventive care.

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