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Womans Death increases Pressure on LA Hospital to close down

A Los Angeles county hospital is under immense pressure trying to survive amid reports of negligence in patient care. The plea for help from a woman dying in the emergency room of the Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital seemed to have been ignored by the in house staff.

Like wise two emergency calls to the 911 too was rejected by the dispatchers, ultimately leading to the death of the woman. Newly released tapes of 911 calls reveal that a woman who lay bleeding on the floor of the emergency room died last month after dispatchers refused to contact paramedics or an ambulance to take her to another facility.

Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, once a symbol of hope in the inner city, struggled Wednesday to survive amid new reports of breakdowns in patient care, the replacement of its chief medical officer and an ultimatum to correct long-running problems or close.

Edith Isabel Rodriguez, 43, had been taken to Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital for treatment of what the county coroner later determined was a perforated bowel on May 9th. She waited 45 minutes, without treatment, before she died.

The County coroner believes that she would have survived if had received timely help.

The whole incident was caught on camera, the video from an ER camera showed staff members and patients standing by as a janitor cleaned the floor around Rodriguez, who was buried Tuesday in Tehachapi, Calif.

The woman's treatment was 'callous, it was a horrible thing,' Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke said Wednesday .

Earlier this week, the county Board of Supervisors grilled health officials about conditions at the public hospital and ordered them to return in two weeks with a plan to deal with a hospital shutdown if it is unable to correct deficiencies laid out in a federal inspection that concluded emergency room patients were in 'immediate jeopardy.' After the inspection last week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the hospital 23 days to correct problems or face a loss of federal funding that provides much of its budget. That could force it to close. It was the fourth time in less than four years that the hospital had received the warning.

The federal review was based, in part, on a report that a man with a brain tumor waited four days in the emergency room when he needed to be transferred to another facility for lifesaving brain surgery.

Dr. Roger Peeks, the hospital's chief medical officer, was placed on 'ordered absence' Monday and replaced on an interim basis by Dr. Robert Splawn, senior medical officer for the county health department. Department spokesman Michael Wilson confirmed the change but declined to elaborate Wednesday, saying it was a personnel matter.

L.A. County supervisor Zev Yarovslosky called the hospital's actions a moral and human breakdown.

Burke said the county-run hospital, which handles 49,000 emergency patients a year, is a crucial facility and efforts should be made to keep it open because nearby hospitals could not handle the load. Health officials are 'doing everything in our power to help MLK-Harbor meet national standards,' Dr. Bruce Chernof, director and chief medical officer of health department, said in a statement.

Sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department was reviewing the handling of the 911 calls by two of its dispatchers.


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