With the new state-of-the-art facility opened, staffed with leadership earning recognition, and welcoming more patients every day, it would be natural to assume that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) is well on its way to fulfilling its mission of improving the health of the South Los Angeles community.
Not so fast, says hospital CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor. The hospital’s opening was just the beginning. "Nothing is going to change for healthcare in our community until we get more doctors here."
"There are 39 physicians per 100,000 residents in South LA," Dr. Batchlor explains. "Compare that with 1,000 physicians for the same population in Los Angeles’s west side. The physician gap in this community is the next mountain we must move."
The MLK Community Medical Group
MLKCH has an innovative solution: it has created the tax-exempt nonprofit MLK Community Medical Group (MLK CMG). Unlike typical medical groups, which are for-profit corporations, the MLK Community Medical Group is a unique model for the state of California. As a charitable organization, physicians in the medical group are required to serve the community. In joining the group, its members commit to provide quality, compassionate care for South Los Angeles.
"Members of this medical group put the community's needs first," says Dr. John Fisher, the hospital's chief medical officer and president of the MLK Community Medical Group. "Everyone who joins is committing to the mission of the hospital in improving health in South Los Angeles."
Central to the new medical group's recruitment effort is the hospital's partnership with UCLA’s Department of Family Medicine, and the department’s International Medical Graduate (IMG) program. Experienced IMG physicians are able to provide culturally aligned care—essential for South Los Angeles, which is 70% Hispanic.