MLKCH CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor

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It’s right there in the middle of the hospital’s name: Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, and as the CEO of MLKCH, Dr. Elaine Batchlor takes the word community very seriously. She always keeps the healthcare needs of South LA top of mind.

“Now that the hospital is open and delivering on its promise of quality care, we’re intensifying our focus on what’s happening in the community, how we can help, and how we can connect,” Dr. Batchlor says. “I see endless opportunities to support health and wellness among our patients and families.”

Improved access to specialty care, post-discharge care navigators, greater participation in wellness and prevention programs, and annual visits to primary physicians are all critical for a healthier community. The hospital has an important role to play in each of these areas.

Education, Education, Education

The hospital keeps wellness and prevention at the top of its list for impact on better health. Even before it opened, MLKCH began to partner with community organizations to produce events and conduct outreach, including:

  • A Childhood Wellness Fair, organized with the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club
  • A Heart Awareness Month campaign, in partnership with the American Heart Association, local churches, and community centers
  • Diabetes prevention workshops with local nonprofit Shield for Families

Other programs developed to promote self-care include the Know Your Basics community health initiative, launched by the hospital to provide residents with information and resources to better manage their health. Events have been held in barber and beauty shops, at local shopping centers, and in farmers markets and senior centers.

MLKCH is also partnering with four local LAUSD schools—Carver Elementary, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, Markham Middle School, and King/Drew Magnet High School—in the You Can initiative to support and mentor youth. This includes introducing the many career paths possible in the healthcare profession.

“We need to foster development of a more robust health professional pipeline here in South LA,” says Dr. Batchlor, who recently spoke at a career day at King/Drew Magnet. “Our first contribution is our work with our partner school teachers and principals.”

When students from Markham took a recent tour of MLKCH, they met and worked with hospital staff. “We had the children do innovation exercises, and they came up with some very creative ideas,” Dr. Batchlor continues, smiling. “One of the kids suggested that we develop a machine that converts junk food into healthy food. I was all for that!”

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“Now that the hospital is open and delivering on its promise of quality care, we’re intensifying our focus on what’s happening in the community, how we can help and how we can connect. I see endless opportunities to support health and wellness among our patients and families.” —Dr. Elaine Batchlor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital CEO

Filling a Gap

A near-term initiative for the hospital is the launch of an Advanced Care Program, designed to keep sick adults out of the hospital and emergency department and in their homes. MLKCH is partnering with physicians from UCLA’s International Medical Graduates program—providers who understand community members’ culture and language—to staff ACP’s first clinic, scheduled to open in 2016.

Simultaneously, plans are underway for a new Medical Office Building on the MLK Medical Campus, with the hospital as an anchor tenant. Here, hospital physicians will be able to offer follow-up care for their patients, and providers from multiple specialties can be recruited to the area. South Los Angeles has a critical gap of 1,700 physicians—beyond the Affordable Care Act, access to physicians is the biggest hurdle to improving healthcare in the community.

MLKCH’s Advanced Care Program and the Medical Office Building will make a difference in filling that healthcare gap. “We’d like to see a retail pharmacy in the building, a lab, imaging, and a space for health education.” Dr. Batchlor explains. “All of this will bring much needed resources to a community that deserves our support and care.”