Community Hospital in Long Beach will not reopen by July, as its operators had previously predicted.
John Molina, a co-founder of the hospital’s operator — Molina, Wu, Network, LLC — said in a Thursday, June 6, interview that he does not have a new timeline in mind for when Community Hospital may begin taking patients again.
“We’re not going to make that date,” he said. “I’m embarrassed, but there’s a lot of moving parts to get a hospital reopened.”
Molina listed several aspects of the process that MWN has no control over, including how long it takes to get a slew of licenses that cover everything from X-ray machines to environmental health and safety.
“We’re going through that bureaucracy,” he said, “but I will say that everyone is just working their tails off trying to get this thing open as quickly as possible.”
This is the third time MWN has missed a self-imposed goal for reopening the facility. Operators said last summer they were aiming for Jan. 1. Then, in December, officials said a projected “springtime” date would be likely. The July time frame was announced in April.
Community Hospital has been closed since last summer because its operator at the time, MemorialCare, determined the required seismic retrofit would be too costly for the hospital to remain financially viable.
But Long Beach owns the property, so the city quickly set to work finding a new operator who would commit to reopening it.
It found that commitment from the newly formed group, MWN. The corporation and the city have been in lease negotiations ever since. The two sides reached a short-term agreement in March, in which Long Beach agreed to split the costs of the retrofit, with a cap of $25 million from the city.
That short-term agreement could stretch to March 2020 while MWN pursues licenses. MWN is responsible for costs associated to the property, while state approvals are pursued. If those approvals don't happen or the long-term lease isn't signed for other reasons, the city would reimburse MWN up to $1 million of its costs.
A long-term deal is still in the works, which will have to come to the City Council for approval.
As for the retrofit, the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development approved late last month an extension request from MWN to bring Community Hospital into compliance. The team now has until 2025, five more years than the initial deadline.
Molina, for his part, said that wouldn’t impact the reopening timeline.
“We want to get it done as soon as possible,” he said, “but this gives us more breathing room.”