LB City Council approves temporary agreement in effort to reopen Community Hospital

City, hospital officials elaborated on Tuesday’s short-term lease decision that could ‘save’ 95-year-old medical facility

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LB City Council approves temporary agreement in effort to reopen Community Hospital

Community Hospital of Long Beach

Community Hospital of Long Beach

Community Hospital of Long Beach

Community Hospital of Long Beach

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The reopening of Community Hospital Long Beach is getting closer and closer for residents, even more so after a recent decision by the Long Beach City Council this week to approve a temporary agreement for the 95-year-old facility.

The city council unanimously approved a preliminary/interim agreement Tuesday, March 12, at Long Beach City Hall during its meeting to provide a short-term lease to operator Molina, Wu, Network, LLC. (MWN) for Community Hospital Long Beach.

“A hospital transcends district boundaries,” said City Manager Patrick West. “I want to ensure to everybody here that the entire city council, including Mayor [Robert] Garcia, have been intermittently involved every step of this way. So, again, this has been involved by the entire city council, because the hospital is so special to this city.”

Per Economic Development Director John Keisler’s presentation Tuesday, details of the agreement include:

• Recognizing operation of Community Hospital as a public-private partnership between the City and MWN.
• Establishing a 45-year lease term, with the option of two 10-year extensions, for $1 a year.
• Sharing funding responsibility of seismic-retrofit costs between the City and MWN for up to $50 million. The City will be responsible for up to $25 million, and MWN will be responsible for any additional seismic-related costs, according to officials.
• Providing an acute-care facility, professional office building and other ancillary medical uses, as well as an effort by MWN to provide sobering-center beds, medical-detox beds, recuperative care and psychiatric beds.
• Requesting that the operator re-hire Community Hospital employees.

Keisler also illustrated a timeline of the next steps that are required to reopen and rebuild the medical facility: executing interim leases and submitting a seismic-rebuild plan and legislative-extension plan to the State by March; securing a hospital license by April; finalizing a long-term agreement by April or May; begin rehiring employees in May; approving construction plans by 2020; and completing construction by 2022 to 2025.

In November 2017, former hospital operator MemorialCare announced that Community did not meet the seismic-safety regulations established by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). MemorialCare was initially aware of a fault line located along the back-left portion of the property when it purchased Community in 2011, but a study then revealed that the facility instead stood on two larger fault lines. More research indicated that the fault zone was active and a legitimate seismic and safety concern.

More than a year of task-force meetings and uncertainties have culminated to Tuesday’s temporary agreement that may eventually lead to a long-term solution for Community Hospital supporters.

John Molina, founder of Pacific 6 Enterprises and partner of MWN, commended the support from Long Beach councilmembers Daryl Supernaw, Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo in the effort to reopen the medical facility.

“This has been a very long process,” Molina said. “[…] This is a hospital that belongs to all of the city, and it will help relieve a lot of the pent-up demand that we are experiencing at Long Beach Memorial and St. Mary’s. […] Everyone has been optimistic, everyone has been realistic and everyone has been very forthcoming.”

Molina clarified that a license application for Community Hospital will be submitted by the end of March.

Mayor Garcia said he wanted to point out that there was initial concern citywide in late 2017 when news first broke that Community Hospital and the emergency room would potentially cease its services.

“You often read in the newspaper or see on the news about hospitals closing in communities,” he said. “I’m really proud that Long Beach is, right now, leading the conversation about keeping a hospital and saving a hospital within our community. […] We are at a very special and important moment in the process.”