By the time Keith Hobbs, a 23-year employee at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, joined USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale as its chief executive, the once independent hospital had already spent more than two years under the Keck Medicine of USC banner.
Along with the usual growing pains associated with an acquisition, Verdugo Hills Hospital had spent 2014-15 negotiating a new contract with unionized nurses who complained about staffing shortages as well as unsafe conditions and patient care.
Around that same time, a case of a “superbug,” carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, was reported at Verdugo Hills.
The superbug was immediately treated, and nurses agreed to a 14-month contract in April 2015, but the dubious reputation remained.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge,” Hobbs said. “If you just take a look at the national landscape for independent hospitals — specifically, not having the resources as an independent hospital to keep up with the latest technology — that was a tremendous factor in Verdugo Hills falling behind the times and some of the negative reputation [people] were aware of.”
Hobbs replaced interim chief executive Paul Craig in January 2016 with an eye on leveraging both his time as a La Crescenta resident and USC’s resources to help steer the hospital in the right direction.
Armand Dorian, associate chief medical officer at USC Verdugo Hills, was a senior physician prior to the acquisition, and he said he knew several years ago that the time would come where the transformation of healthcare meant the then standalone hospital would need to affiliate with a larger system.
“Verdugo had to a…
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