State to allow Community Hospital to accept behavioral health patients

Community Hospital received state approval Tuesday to activate 28 behavioral health beds, and the operator expects the first transfer patient from College Medical Center sometime this week.

The news comes three weeks after the hospital received its first patient—also a transfer from College—since closing two and a half years ago.

The opening of the behavioral health department marks another milestone in the resurrection of the facility, said Brandon Dowling, spokesman for the operator, Molina, Wu, Network.

“It’s a hospital that people want to see restored,” he said, “and we’ll be opening piece by piece to ensure we keep our patients … safe during our future growth.”

At the beginning of the month, the state granted the facility approval to reopen with 51 beds, including 11 in the intensive care unit and 40 medical/surgical. At the time, the operator said it would continue to work with the California Department of Public Health to reopen additional departments in the coming months.

Community is only accepting transfer patients from other hospitals, as its emergency department has not yet reopened. While the operator initially said the goal was to reopen the ER in March, Dowling said it may be postponed until April due to delays caused by the pandemic, especially the increased workload for the state health department.

While the facility will not be releasing patient counts regularly, Dowling said numerous patients have been transferred to Community since the reopening on Jan. 4, many of whom have been treated and discharged.

The East Long Beach hospital has a license that expires on April 28, however, the state health department confirmed this is the date of the hospital’s mandatory annual license renewal, a process all medical facilities undergo each year.

Editor’s note: John Molina—of Molina, Wu, Network—is the primary investor in the parent company that owns the Long Beach Post. Read more about the Post’s ownership here.

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.
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