LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – A 94-year-old Long Beach hospital will close in June after a report found that an active earthquake fault runs under its property.
Community Medical Center Long Beach will be closing on June 30 after it was determined that it would be unable to meet California “seismic compliance” regulations, which will take effect in June of 2019, forcing the hospital out of operation.
The hospital’s owner, MemorialCare Health System, announced in November that an independent seismic study had found an active fault under the campus.
“The findings were supported by significant due diligence, including consulting with seismic experts, structural engineers and architects and recently verified by seismic experts hired by the City of Long Beach,” MemorialCare said Monday.
That news led to an exodus of hospital employees for other jobs, making it difficult to maintain staffing levels. It prompted officials Monday to submit a 120-day lease termination notice to the city, which owns the land.
“It has become increasingly challenging to maintain the depth of resources available and necessary to operate an acute care hospital,” MemorialCare said. “As such, the 120-day notice has been submitted. The facility will remain appropriately staffed until the hospital has closed all acute care services.”
The hospital first went into operation in 1924. MemorialCare has owned it since 2011.
A study determined that the other area hospitals would be able to “absorb” the acute care patients from Community Medical Center when it shutters, MemorialCare says.
Along with the Community Medical Center, MemorialCare also operates five other hospitals in the region: Long Beach Medical Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Medical Center and the Saddleback Medical Center.
“We exhaustively explored all options to continue operations at Community Medical Center as an acute care hospital,” said John Bishop, CEO of the three Long Beach hospitals in MemorialCare. “This proved not possible since large portions of the facility would have to be demolished, resulting in a small, 94-year-old hospital with no more than 20 acute care beds, which would not allow for viable acute care operations.”
Bishop said the hospital hoped to transfer control of the facility to another operator that might find a way to continue offering behavioral health services at the location, but the city rejected the proposal.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Monday said the city is working to find a hospital operator interested in providing service at the location.
“Community Hospital is a critical asset to our community,” Garcia said. “We are exploring every possibility to keep an emergency room and hospital on site, including state legislation, other possible operators and potential solutions to seismic challenges. While we are disappointed to hear the news of Memorial giving formal notice, the city’s efforts to find solutions and opportunities will continue.”
Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) has introduced legislation that would extend the deadline for the facility to achieve seismic compliance until 2025. He said he was “disheartened” by news of the closure.
“Community Hospital offers the only emergency room on the east side of the city,” O’Donnell said. “This decision will put even more pressure on other emergency rooms throughout the region and endangers the health and safety of east side residents.”
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