Two struggling urban hospital systems -- Detroit Medical Center and the Los Angeles County health system -- advanced their financial recovery plans. The DMC said it will restructure its corporate and individual hospital boards to reduce potential conflicts of interest and hopefully make it easier to attain more public funds. DMC President and CEO Arthur Porter told physicians and employees that the system does do business with companies employing some of its 206 board members. "We have an extensive internal audit and compliance process that reviews all work done by board member firms . . . but maybe we have not gone far enough," Porter said. "In order for DMC to achieve its goal of obtaining any public funds, every question must be answered and every negative perception must be cleared." The DMC plans a two-tiered board structure, with one level composed of individuals without business or financial ties to the system. Last month, Porter announced changes to reduce the system's losses, which totaled almost $400 million over the past five years.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County overcame an obstacle to its plans to convert 70-bed High Desert Hospital, Lancaster, Calif., into an outpatient clinic by July 1. The move is expected to save the county's healthcare system $10 million a year. U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper denied a request for a temporary injunction against the conversion from neighboring Antelope Valley Hospital, which argued its emergency department would be overwhelmed if High Desert ends inpatient services. In prior weeks, Cooper has blocked other scheduled county cutbacks, including the closure of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, Downey, and a 100-bed reduction at County-USC Medical Center, Los Angeles. -- by Mark Taylor and Laura B. Benko