Michael Jackson Burn Center Closes
CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) _ An emergency burn center named for singer Michael Jackson is closing its doors to new patients as of today because of severe financial losses, a spokeswoman said.
The 23-bed center, which opened in 1974 and was named for singer Jackson a decade later, cannot afford to remain open, spokeswoman Diane Sherman said today. It is one of four burn centers in the Los Angeles area.
″This is similar to circumstances faced by local trauma centers in dealing with an escalating financial burden which prohibits continued operations,″ said Ms. Sherman, spokeswoman for Brotman Memorial Medical Center, which houses the center.
″The impact of changes caused by the reduction of govenmental reimbursements for Medicare and medical patients, coupled with a decline in admissions into the burn center, has forced us into this unfortunate decision,″ Ms. Sherman said.
The 3-year-old Los Angeles County trauma network, once considered a role model for the country, is in the midst of a major financial crisis. Five of the 23 member hospitals have dropped out of the program, all citing excessive costs in caring for indigent patients.
County officials say the state agreed several years ago to pay 30 percent of indigent health-care costs but hasn’t paid up. Los Angeles County alone is owed $77 million, they say.
Ms. Sherman said the entire Michael Jackson Burn Center staff would be transferred into other units at the 566-bed hospital. She said patients currently in the burn center would be cared for, but no new patients would be accepted as of today.
The center was named for Jackson after the entertainer was treated there following second- and third-degree burns suffered during the filming of a pyrotechnic-laden commercial for Pepsi-Cola Co.
Jackson established a fund for the center to finance reconstructive surgery and provide entertainment for burn victims.
The trauma network was established to guarantee victims of serious injuries or accidents no more than a 20-minute ambulance ride to specially equipped and staffed emergency rooms.