The UC Board of Regents on Thursday agreed to help reopen one of the most troubled medical institutions in state history, Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. The move followed an offer by billionaire doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong, who put $100 million in loan guarantees on the table in an effort to get the institution back on its feet.
After years of mismanagement, lawsuit payouts and horrific allegations — a patient died in the emergency room begging for help, two others perished while vital signs went unnoticed, staff used taser guns to tame unruly psychiatric patients — the county finally shut the thing down in 2007.
The county board of supervisors pledged $354 million to reopen the institution as a 120-bed hospital in 2012 with UC providing physicians. But regents wanted to see more money on the table, and billionaire Soon-Shiong, who had worked as a UCLA Medical Center surgeon before making much dough with his device and pharmaceutical company AbraxisBioScience Inc., stepped up with the $100 million offer.
He has said he was moved by the story of Edith Isabel Rodriguez, who died in 2007 in a pool of her own blood on the emergency room floor of King as she and family members begged for help.
The community needs a hospital, but as we've said before, we wonder if the place is haunted. With all the money the county now has on the table, we wonder if might be better just to start from scratch.