In the aftermath of a report finding an active earthquake fault on its property and an ensuing exodus of its staff, Community Medical Center Long Beach announced Monday it will close in four months.
The hospital's owner, MemorialCare Health System, announced in November that a seismic study had found an active fault under the campus, and it would not be able to meet seismic compliance requirements as of June 30, 2019, when it would have to stop operating.
That news led to an "increasing departure of staff seeking longer- term opportunities," according to the hospital, prompting officials to submit a 120-day lease termination notice to the city, which owns the land.
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"This is a difficult announcement," said John Bishop, CEO of Community Hospital Long Beach. "We exhaustively explored all options to continue operations at Community Medical Center as an acute care hospital. 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.
"We did not take this decision lightly, and we are committed to doing everything we can to ease the transition for affected employees, physicians and our patients," he said.
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 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, said he was "disheartened" by news of the center's pending 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."
O'Donnell has introduced legislation that would extend the deadline for the facility to achieve seismic compliance until 2025.
"This announcement makes the effort to secure a provider for Community Hospital much more difficult," he said. "I urge stakeholders to stay engaged as we determine our next steps."