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Southland's Sickest Patients: Its Hospitals

Forget King-Drew Medical Center, the inner city hospital long regarded as the sick man of California's health care facilities. A recent spate of news reports shows that even the most suburban hospitals are rife with health-threatening incidents or financial difficulties. Today's L.A. Times reports that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continue to identify serious problems at the UC Irvine Medical Center. The CMS is poised to cut off Medicare funding to the center after discovering dozens of shortcomings related to poor oversight of patients that put them at risk. The university-run IMC caught the feds' attention last year when California placed the facility under state supervision due to unsafe conditions in UCI's anestheseology department.

Above: UCI's new hospital

Although UCI, which will open a new facility next month,

remedied that situation, a followup inspection by CMS this past October

flunked the hospital in six of 23 categories, including, the Times says,  "patient rights, quality assurance and infection control." Last week the Orange County Register quoted UCI's vice chancellor for health affairs, Dr. David Bailey, as claiming all 54 of the new deficiencies have been fixed.

Nevertheless, UCI has 10 days to clean up its act. The Times

noted that UCI's past problems over the previous 14 years include a

dysfunctional liver transplant program, a cadaver scandal and egg and

embryo thefts.

Up the 57 Freeway, San Dimas' Casa Bonita Convalescent Hospital is facing a $121,000 fine leveled

by the California Department of Public Health, which accuses the

hospital with neglect in a 2007 incident in which a 90-year-old

woman died after she became disconnected from a breathing ventilator. The fine -- the highest possible -- will be challenged by the hospital.  According to the CDPH's Web site, the department received 29 complaints about Casa Bonita from 2004 through 2008.

Finally, theL.A. Times says

that Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, located between Johnny

Carson Park and Disney Studios in Burbank's Media District, is closing

four programs and laying off 95 employees as a result of the recession.

Only last September the medical center announced it was finalizing plans to acquire Tarzana Regional Medical Center in a $89 million deal.

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