USC joined a collaborative effort Sept. 10 to stabilize and reinvigorate the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science after CDU’s two-year struggle to expand the university without the support of Los Angeles County.
After CDU was cited by Los Angeles County for repeatedly putting patients in danger of injury and death, officials disassociated the university from its teaching hospital, Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital. CDU students’ guaranteed access to a training hospital was revoked and the school’s enrollment decreased by 50 percent. The school’s subsequent loss of financial support greatly reduced its ability to send students into resident programs.
With the cooperation of the former CDU Board of Trustees, leaders from USC, Catholic Healthcare West, Cedars-Sinai Medical, Kaiser Permanente, The California Endowment and UCLA have formed a new governing board to redirect the financial management of CDU.
A board of councilors, comprised of senior health care and education leaders from the different universities, will advise the Board of Trustees.
“The university is not slowing down. Its board has been reconstructed and reinvigorated. The new board will map out a plan to rescue the university,” said Fred MacFarlane, spokesman for the CDU Board of Trustees.
Now with the guidance of two new boards, CDU is on the way to recovering from a series of financial strains, MacFarlane said.
Hopeful that the downward trend was only temporary, the university broke ground on a nursing school that opened last month. With no significant increase in enrollment or funding, CDU is struggling to make loan and insurance payments for the new nursing facility.
No entity, USC or otherwise, has announced any financial commitment to the university to date, MacFarlane said.
The dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine and member of the CDU Board of Trustees, Carmen Puliafito, said the board’s mission is to help CDU explore strategies to remain financially viable.
“CDU has done a great job reducing disparities over the years. It’s the only historically black medical school west of the Mississippi so it has had a significant role in producing minority doctors. We will provide guidance to the university as it goes forward,” Puliafito said.
The board hopes that under its new leadership CDU will be able to establish an agreement with the Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital projected to re-open in early 2013, MacFarlane said.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital was closed by the federal government in 2007 because of care problems. It will re-open and be run by a non-profit company.
Enrollment at CDU could potentially be restored to the capacity it had in 2006 — before the university’s separation from Los Angeles County — if its medical residents and nursing students were guaranteed training and residency in a hospital, he said.
As for the short term, the Board of Trustees’ first order of business will be getting CDU’s financial affairs in order.
“A week ago, outlooks for the university’s financial situation were bleak. Now they are significantly brightened. That bodes well for the university and it bodes well for the underserved communities of South L.A., which CDU has served,” MacFarlane said.