Saturday, August 11, 2007

What King-Harbor Hospital Can Learn from The Carlyle Group

A Los Angeles County hospital serving the poor will close its doors leaving an impoverished neighborhood with far fewer medical care options. King-Harbor Hospital failed a critical federal inspection and will lock their doors within two weeks. Regulators decided the dangers of keeping the facility open outweighed the benefits of 1,600 employees serving 48 inpatient beds and 47,000 ER visits.

The Carlyle Group owned another hospital facility that shuttered, and the feds too played a role in its "closure". LifeCare Hospitals, a Carlyle affiliate, had their New Orleans facility turned into a death trap by Hurricane Katrina. As a result LifeCare had the highest patient death total of all facilities in Katrina's aftermath. In legal cases, the hospital company blames the feds. They say when federal evacuation teams set up in New Orleans, their patients became wards of the federal government.

So why shouldn't King-Harbor do the same thing? The feds just delivered a letter withdrawing $200 million in federal funding causing a flood of uncompensated care to swamp the building. Why not do what Carlyle's affiliate did? Why not wash their hands of responsibility for patients under their care? King-Harbor isn't doing such a thing according to news reports, "the state will have staff at King-Harbor throughout the weekend to monitor the care provided to the remaining patients."

But don't worry, the county is looking for other private operators to reopen the hospital in 12 to 18 months. In two years time consultants couldn't turn around the facility. However, Navigant Consulting (like Carlyle & LifeCare) successfully kept their name out of the news stories. How do they manage that? As for new private operators for King-Harbor, let's just hope its not a Carlyle Group owned company...