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Former 'Killer King' Hospital Undergoes Renovation, Branding Makeover

LOS ANGELES ( — A South Los Angeles hospital once nicknamed "Killer King" for its troubles will reopen Tuesday after a complete renovation and image change.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in unincorporated Willowbrook south of Watts replaces the King/Drew Medical Center that closed eight years ago. The new campus has a new management structure and operating philosophy than its predecessor.

The 131-bed MLK Community Hospital is about one-third the size of the old medical center and will focus on preventative care to reduce the need for emergency room visits and hospitalization.

Surrounded by an expanded outpatient clinic, a new urgent-care psychiatric center and a new public health clinic, MLK Community Hospital patients can get STD testing, immunizations and other preventive care.

While the old King-Drew Medical Center, which opened in 1972, was run by L.A. County, the new hospital is being managed by a governing authority overseen by healthcare, business and law professionals focused exclusively on the facility.

"Accreditation by The Joint Commission clears the final hurdle to restore quality hospital services at the MLK Medical Campus and marks the beginning of a new era in health care delivery in the Willowbrook community and beyond," Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

A formal dedication ceremony for the $210 million hospital is planned for Aug. 7.

"For all the nay-sayers and people that want to talk about it, don't call it 'Killer King'," resident Barbara Calhoun said.

The construction cost totaled $250 million, with an additional $154 million in operating costs. $18 million will be spent annually to offset the cost of uninsured patients.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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