Standing on the lawn of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Willowbrook, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was sworn in Friday as the first African-American man to chair the Board of Supervisors.
In his second term as the representative of the Second District, Ridley-Thomas will oversee the re-opening of MLK Hospital, which was previously known as King/Drew Hospital. It was shut down in 2007 following a Los Angeles Times’ series on patient care abuses.
“Even with all that we have done and all of what we have learned, there is still much to do,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Somehow today I hear the voice of one of America’s most prolific inventors. Thomas Edison [said], ‘Opportunity is often missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.'
“Therefore I pose a question and it’s a simple one: Are you ready to don your overalls and embrace the next four years of opportunity?”
The new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital is expected to open in 2014.
“Above all, we’re focused on creating a culture of competence, commitment and dedication to delivering the highest quality health care to the people of the Second District,” Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of the hospital, said during the 90-minute ceremony.
The board chairmanship rotates among the five members. Ridley-Thomas, who will preside for the next year, is the first African-American man to hold the position. Former county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was the first African-American to chair the board.
Attending the morning ceremony were county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe, Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, and L.A. City Council members Jan Perry and Dennis Zine.
Before joining the Board of Supervisors in 2008, Ridley-Thomas served on the L.A. City Council and in the state Senate and Assembly.