A rousing show of support for MLK Community Healthcare

Photo of Dr. Batchlor; Mike Gipson; Steve Bradford and MLKCH staff at a June 6, 2024 press conference

Legislators, community members rally for the award-winning safety net hospital threatened by funding shortfalls

June 7, 2024 – State lawmakers, community representatives, and more than three dozen physicians, nurses and staff rallied at the doorstep of MLK Community Hospital today in support of increased state funding for the award-winning safety net hospital.

Organized by Asm. Mike Gipson (D-Carson), the press conference featured State Senator Steven Bradford (D-Ingelwood), representatives from the LA County Supervisor’s office, Compton Mayor Emma Shariff, Lynwood Mayor Pro-Tem Rita Soto and representatives from dozens of South LA community groups.

“MLKCH is one of the last [hospitals] providing critical front-line services to our residents.  Yet it is on the brink of closure,” Gipson said as dozens of physicians, nurses and other MLKCH clinical staff stood behind him in front of the hospital entrance.  “It has faced an overwhelming volume of patients far exceeding the capacity it was originally funded to handle.”

The event came one day after the publication of a CalMatters story on the closures of maternity wards across California and LA County.  MLK Community Hospital runs one of the few remaining maternity wards in South LA, a majority African American and Latino community that is largely covered by Medi-Cal.

“The critical lack of maternity care services in South Los Angeles has reached a breaking point,” Gipson said as dozens of physicians, nurses and other MLKCH clinical staff stood behind him in front of the hospital entrance.  “To have mothers who are expecting to deliver and this hospital the only one in this area [with a] maternity ward and it could close down?  That’s a nightmare I’m not willing to live.”

 Gipson noted that MLKCH’s maternity model has won state and national recognition for its excellent outcomes, especially for women of color.

“This small but mighty community hospital has and continues to show resilience and determination…but it is time for the state to step up and support MLK in ways that reflect the reality of its situation.”

Without increased state funding, the hospital may run out of operational revenue as soon as early 2025.

“This is a critical moment in our hospital’s young life,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor.  “Although we have many things to celebrate, among them our maternity care, we have equally critical work ahead of us and we need our public partner, the state of California, to accomplish that work.”

MLKCH opened in 2015 with state funding that projected approximately 30,000 annual visits to the hospital’s 29-bed Emergency Department.  In 2023, the hospital saw four times that amount, making it one of the busiest EDs in the state. The majority of these visits (76%) were Medi-Cal, which does not reimburse providers for the full cost of care. 

“We lose money on every one of those patient visits—a significant amount.” Batchlor said.  “As the volume grew and continues to grow, we began to lose more and more money.”

Gipson, Bradford and other community leaders have long called for the state to adjust its funding formula for MLKCH to account for our high volume. 

MLKCH thanks Asm. Gipson, Sen. Bradford, and all those who showed up for us today, and every day, as we aim to fulfill our mission of compassionate, quality and accessible care.

A full video recording of the event can be viewed on the Democrat Assembly YouTube’s website below.

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