LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell Friday called on the city to explore the possibility of turning the soon-to-close St. Vincent Medical Center into housing for the homeless — potentially including mental health, substance abuse and other services.

“I think at this time, property owners, folks who own institutions, city leaders, county leaders, state leaders, we need to put our heads together and figure out how we can put a deal together to either acquire the site outright and take over management and operations ourselves, or enter into some sort of long-term lease that might work financially as well,” O’Farrell said. “But we know that something has got to give, and if it is not going to continue (to be used) as a hospital, which looks more and more likely as the days go by … let’s take a serious look at re-purposing the facility
entirely.”

The nonprofit Verity Health System announced earlier this month that it would be closing the hospital, at 2131 W. 3rd St., after a proposed sale of the Westlake District property fell through.

O’Farrell, who chairs the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said the city could possibly acquire the 366-bed hospital for less than what it would cost to build the same number of beds for the homeless — though he said the exact cost was unknown. He also said

Verity previously said current patients would be transferred to nearby facilities and ambulance services would be diverted to nearby emergency rooms — including the eight hospitals within a 3-mile radius of St. Vincent. An exact closing date has not yet been announced.

A motion calling for an exploration of acquiring the facility is expected to be heard in the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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