Chernof explained that the Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital will stay open 16 hours a day, everyday - offering outpatient care for routine medical problems. Ambulances will be on stand-by to transport more seriously ill patients to nearby hospitals.

Despite attempts to improve patient care, including disciplinary action, managerial reorganization, closing some units and cutting the number of inpatient beds, the hospital still failed federal inspections. As Herb Kuhn, acting deputy administrator for the U.S. Centers of Medicare and Medical Services (CMS)
, said "conditions at the facility have placed the health and safety of patients at great risk. While some progress has been made, significant problems persist."

The CMS says it will end its provider agreement with the hospital. In effect, King-Harbor will no longer be reimbursed for caring for Medicare
patients. The loss of funding will cut the hospitals income in half, forcing it to close down. King-Harbor could re-apply, however, it would take months before they got an answer - inspections would have to be carried out again.

King-Harbor serves one of the poorest neighborhoods of Los Angeles. It receives approximately 50,000 emergency room visits each year and employs 1,600 people. Officials say there are plans to seek out a private operator.

The hospital used to have 250 inpatient beds. After failing an inspection in September, 2006, the number was reduced to 48 inpatient beds. A July 2007 inspection failed the hospital in 8 of 23 areas.