community emergency room

The Emergency Department at Community Hospital of Long Beach has become a rallying point for East Side residents.

California Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, who represents the 70th District including most of Long Beach, introduced a bill today, Thursday, that would require hospitals to provide more notice to communities before shutting their doors.

In announcing the bill, O’Donnell cited Long Beach Community Hospital, which closed over the summer, as an example of why the bill is needed.

“Hospital closures are devastating for communities,” he said in a statement. “Just last year, Community Hospital of Long Beach closed its doors after abruptly diverting emergency room patients to other hospitals with little notice to residents. There was very little time to engage the hospital provider on an alternative to closure, and patients ultimately paid the price. There are now longer wait times for services, longer ambulance travel times, and overcrowding at other facilities.”

The bill, AB 1014, would require hospitals to provide a 180-day public notice before closing or eliminating services. Currently, they are only required to provide a 30-day notice before closing a hospital or a 90-day notice before eliminating emergency services. The bill is pending referral to its first policy committee.

Hospital operator MemorialCare did provide initial notice of its plan to close Community 180 days before the actual closure on July 3.

In the meantime, O’Donnell is working with Long Beach officials to reopen Community Hospital, which closed because its operator at the time, MemorialCare, said a required seismic retrofitting would be too costly for the hospital to remain financially viable.

But because Long Beach owns the property, the city quickly found a new operator, Molina, Wu, Network, which vowed to reopen the facility.

The two sides have been in negotiations to accomplish that ever since.

Fourth District City Councilman Daryl Supernaw announced last week that he expected the City Council to vote to approve a final proposal during its closed session meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19. But the council reported no action that night, which California’s open meetings law would have required if a decision had been made.

In an email late Tuesday, Supernaw said the proposal would come back to the council on March 5, its next regularly scheduled meeting.

John Molina, a co-founder of Molina, Wu, Network said in December that he hoped to reopen Community Hospital in the “springtime.”

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