Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 11, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Dr. Elaine Batchlor, who as CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, brought high-quality healthcare to a Los Angeles community with some of the worst health indicators in the nation, will be awarded the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award in Sacramento today.

The prestigious prize, which comes with a grant of $250,000, recognizes “innovative, effective leaders whose breakthrough solutions to critical state challenges improve people’s lives, create opportunity, and contribute to a better California,” according to the foundation. Dr. Batchlor is one of five Californians – all women – to receive the Leadership Award in 2019.

“We are heartened and inspired by the work of these innovative Californians,” said Don Howard, President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine Foundation. “California’s challenges can sometimes seem insurmountable, so it’s an honor to celebrate these exemplary leaders and elevate the solutions that are improving lives across the state.”

Starting in 2010, Dr. Batchlor spearheaded efforts to open a new, state-of-the-art, 131-bed community hospital in South LA to serve a majority Medi-Cal population. Since its opening in 2015, MLKCH has received accolades for its high patient satisfaction levels, cutting-edge technology and commitment to providing high quality health care both within and outside the hospital’s walls.

Dr. Batchlor, a native of Maryland who received degrees from Harvard, Case Western Reserve and UCLA, was hired in 2010 to lead the effort to bring a hospital back to South LA after the closure of a public hospital, King-Drew Medical Center, in 2007. Batchlor was one of the leaders of a unique public-private partnership in which Los Angeles County funded the new hospital’s infrastructure, UCLA offered physician staffing, and the hospital itself was governed and managed by a private, non-profit team.

Batchlor also spearheaded innovative efforts to expand access to health services by launching a nonprofit medical group – the MLK Community Medical Group.  She found philanthropic partners, including former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, to fund recruitment of top doctors to work in South LA.

South LA residents have high rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other chronic conditions, and few physicians: a 2016 analysis found a physician gap of 1,200 doctors relative to more affluent areas.

Key to Batchlor’s success has been her insistence that MLKCH provide not just good care, but care on par with that provided at hospitals in more affluent areas.

“It’s not enough to provide health care,” Batchlor said. “It is a medical and social imperative to provide excellent health care.  South LA is an area that has been traumatized, marginalized and medically neglected for decades. Our hospital’s focus on quality and access is perceived as an act of social justice.”

Among its accolades, in 2017 MLKCH achieved HIMSS-7, recognizing the highest level of use of health information technology to provide quality care, achieved by only 6.5% in the nation.  It also has one of the lowest C-section rates in the state. In 2017, Politico called MLKCH “the hospital of the future.”

Before assuming the helm of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, Dr. Batchlor served on the executive leadership team of L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest public health plan. As chief medical officer, she was instrumental in developing a quality care delivery model, as well as health information technology, that expanded access and resources to more than a million individuals throughout the county.

Prior to L.A. Care, Dr. Batchlor served in leadership positions at the California HealthCare Foundation, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Prudential Health Care, and Ross Loos Medical Group. Early in her career she served as a clinical instructor at the UCLA School of Medicine.

About The James Irvine Foundation
The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California. The Foundation’s current focus is a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided more than $1. 87 billion in grants to organizations throughout California. With about $2.3 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $9 5.9 million in 2018. For more information about the Irvine Foundation, please visit: www.irvine.org.

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Gwen Driscoll
Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital
310-720-4441
gdriscoll@mlkch.org