South LA gets new, modern Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas cuts the ribbon on the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center in south Los Angeles. Adrian Florido/KPCC

People living in south L.A. will soon have access to an expanded array of outpatient medical services with the opening of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center.

On Wednesday, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas cut the ribbon on the modern, four-story facility on the campus of the old King/Drew Medical Center.

The facility is set to open June 17, and will include more than 70 clinics specializing in pediatric care, orthopedics, neurology and dental care, among other specialties.  It will also house five operating rooms, a pharmacy and an urgent care center that will operate 16 hours a day.

These represent a significant expansion over the services currently offered on the old King-Drew campus, just south of Watts. When L.A. County closed the troubled King-Drew Medical Center in 2007, it continued offering some outpatient care there. The new facility will be the new home for that care.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Watts resident Sweet Alice Harris said the new center would satisfy the desperate need her community has had for urgent care and primary care since the old medical center closed seven years ago.

"We was carrying a little girl one night, had asthma real bad, and they called me, and we got in the car to take her," Harris said. She said she had to take the girl to California Hospital, but "she died before we got her in there. We have needed this. We need it badly."

The outpatient center is just one of the facilities planned for the old King-Drew campus, which was renamed King-Harbor before it closed. A psychiatric urgent care center is scheduled to open this fall, and a new hospital is set to open next year.