Photo of Community Hospital Long Beach, located at 1720 Termino Avenue, courtesy of CHLB.
The future of Community Hospital Long Beach is up in the air after seismic experts revealed that below the hospital grounds lies a larger, active fault than what was originally known, CHLB officials announced today.
When MemorialCare Medical Group acquired the hospital, known officially as Community Medical Center Long Beach, in 2011, officials knew it had seismic challenges, John Bishop, the hospital’s CEO, told the Post.
“What has changed was as we tried to do the work to determine how to mitigate those challenges, the seismic studies that we took identified a larger fault zone than had previously been known and we also determined that it was an active fault zone so after doing those studies and meeting with the state and OSHPD [Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development]—the agency that works on the state’s behalf and works on compliancy rules—it was determined it wasn’t feasible to have an acute care facility on the property,” Bishop said.
The findings mean that no work can be done to make the hospital viable, not because of money but because the wide fault zone underlies the majority of the campus, he added.
OSHPD confirmed that due to the fault line and the state's legal requirements for acute care hospitals, CHLB cannot meet the seismic compliance regulation effective June 30, 2019. Bishop said that means acute care operations will cease by that date.
Since the city owns the land and building, MemorialCare won’t be able to repurpose, transfer or sell the property without its approval. City council members will discuss the future of CHLB during tomorrow night’s council meeting.
“Our commitment is to try to take care of our community’s health needs as best as we can so we’ll be collaborating with the city to do that,” Bishop said.
In a statement from the City Manager’s Office released Monday, city officials confirmed their commitment to work with CHLB during this transition.
“The City of Long Beach is saddened to hear of the seismic challenges of the facility and the future loss of acute care hospital services at Community Hospital due to State seismic regulations,” the statement read. “The City of Long Beach is committed to working with Community Medical Center Long Beach and members of the community during this transition to examine the best options for the site and to determine how critical medical services will continue to be provided to the community. We will be reviewing all the appropriate documents from Community Medical Center and the State of California, reviewing the options available to the City, and determining the best path forward.”
In addition to consulting with seismic experts, structural engineers and architects as part of the seismic studies, a study was also done to assess the current and future medical services demand to better understand the need for general acute care hospital services in the Long Beach community, CHLB officials said in a release.
The study found that there are seven acute care hospitals within a short travel distance of CHLB’s service area and with a large amount of available patient care beds and excess capacity.
In regard to local emergency departments, it found that CHLB’s emergency visits represent only about 10 percent of total ER visits in the area with over half of those area visits considered “low acuity” so patients could be seen in other settings such as the “more than two dozen urgent care centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers” in Long Beach. It found that the addition of a psychiatric urgent care center in the city in the first half of 2018 and the expansion of three hospitals’ emergency departments in the area will help increase the availability of emergency and urgent care services in Long Beach.
“The study also found that it is likely that the need for acute care inpatient hospital beds will decrease even further due to the industry-wide shift from inpatient settings to outpatient care settings, continued reduction in the average length of hospital stays and increasing population health initiatives that are meant to improve the overall management of individual patients,” according to the release.
It concluded that nearby hospitals could absorb the number of acute care hospital patients currently served by CHLB.
Bishop said on average, the hospital provides long-term care to about 60 to 65 patients on average.
As for the employees, including about 400 full-time personnel, officials will be providing them with retention, or stay-on, bonuses, guaranteed or preferential review transfer opportunities, job training and placement assistance and ongoing support resources.
The hospital is located at 1720 Termino Avenue.