President's Message

Financial Challenges Threaten Safety Net Hospitals

An article recently published in the Los Angeles Times, “MLK Community Hospital Faces Financial Struggles,” sheds light on the increasingly challenging circumstances that our hospitals have grappled with over the past few years. With one in five hospitals at risk of closure, MLK Community Hospital is just one of many facing the dire prospect of reducing services or even closing down.

MLK Community Hospital faces its own unique hurdles, including inadequate supplemental payments from state and county governments. However, a common thread remains among community hospitals that serve as a safety net for our most vulnerable populations: They often bear the brunt of financial challenges. Earlier this year, Central California saw the closure of Madera Community Hospital, and another Southern California hospital filed for bankruptcy. These events underscore the economic pressures hospitals face.

A widespread issue facing at-risk populations is insufficient access to primary care services. According to the Times article, MLK officials estimate that “Roughly 40% of [the hospital’s] emergency department visits could have been handled in an outpatient clinic … but patients have not been able to easily access that care in South L.A.” This narrative resonates with safety net hospitals like MLK, which often serve as the last resort for community members in desperate need of health care.

HASC continues standing with our hospital members and advocating at all government levels for financial and reimbursement health care policies to ease these dire challenges. With health care access decreasing, our communities cannot afford to lose one of the only institutions where our most vulnerable patients receive vital health services.

On a brighter note, I’d like to thank attendees, sponsors, recipients and their families for making HASC’s inaugural My SoCal Hospital Heroes Awards Gala an unforgettable evening. The Nov. 3 event, held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, provided a touching glimpse into the world of our caregivers and celebrated their selfless commitment to delivering compassionate care. We look forward to honoring more hospital heroes by making this memorable event an annual occasion.

Take care and stay safe.

George G.