Assemblyman O'Donnell With LB City Hall Approval Introduces Bill That Doesn't Mention Community Hospital But Would Change A Few Key Words In Current Law To Allow Time Extension For Seismic Safety Deadline-Facing Hospitals is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Feb. 17, 2018, 9:25 a.m.) -- With support and approval by the City of Long Beach, Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, Long Beach-San Pedro) has introduced a bill that doesn't mention LB Community Hospital but proposes to change a few key words in a 1983 state law that requires CA acute care hospitals to meet certain seismic safety standards, effectively enabling Community Hospital's operator (MemorialCare/LB Memorial Hospital) to avoid a deadline it says it can't meet to comply for those seismic safety standards.

In its official digest of O'Donnell's bill, the State Legislative Counsel describes AB 2597 as "technical, nonsubstantive changes" to the 1983 "Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act"...but by changing a few key words, O'Donnell's bill would let CA's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development grant Community Hospital (and potentially other hospitals statewude) an extension of time to operate as an acute care hospital beyond a currnt June 30, 2019 deadline.

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Under the current state law, if the state agency determines that a "general acute care hospital" is a potential risk of collapse or poses significant loss of life in the event of seismic activity, it may only be used for nonacute care hospital purposes unless it rebuilds or retrofits its buildings to meet state earthquake safety standards. Community Hospital sits on land at 1720 Termino Ave. owned by the City of Long Beach, leased for $1 a year to Community Hospital's operator MemorialCare (which operates a number of hospitals regionally including LB Memorial Medical Center.)

In late 2017, Community Hospital's operator announced that a seismic study had concluded that Community Hospital sits atop a seismically active earthquake fault [although seismic issues had previously been presumed at the site.] The hospital's operator said this makes it infeasible to rebuild or seismically retrofit Community Hospital's buildings to meet the seismic standards by the state's deadline and accordingly, it plans to cease operating Community Hospital as an acute care facility on or before June 30, 2019.



That announcement triggered community dismay over the prospect of losing an eastside acute care hospital and ER, which begat involvement by 4th district Councilman Supernaw who called for pursuing potential options and alternatives. On February 15 (the deadline for introducing new bills) and after a Feb. 6 City Council closed session (details below), Supernaw's Council predecessor, Assemblyman O'Donnell, introduced AB 2597 which proposes to change a few words in the current state law as follows:

To evaluate public safety and determine whether to grant an extension of the deadline, the office shall consider the structural integrity of the hospital's SPC-1 buildings based on its Hazards US scores, community access to essential hospital services, and the hospital owner's financial capacity to meet the deadline as determined by either a bond rating of BBB or below or the financial report on the hospital owner's financial capacity submitted pursuant to subparagraph (E) of paragraph (2). The criteria contained in this paragraph shall be considered by the office in its determination of the length of an extension whether an extension should be granted. granted and the length of the extension.

A little over a week earlier, on Feb. 6, the City Council held a closed session publicly agendized as "Pursuant to Section 54956.8 of the California Government Code regarding a conference with the City's real property negotiator [City Manager West] with negotiating parties named as the City of LB and LB Memorial Medical Center regarding the Community Hospital property. The Council took no publicly reportable action, and Councilman Supernaw didn't divulge details but did volunteer in his Feb. 9 emailed newsletter that he was "very pleased with the outcome, and I feel we have a very clear direction moving forward."


A Feb. 16 City Hall release quoted Mayor Garcia as saying the "City is committed to Community Hospital" and O'Donnell's bill will "provide our community with more time to identify a viable solution that will allow us to keep the only co-located acute and psychiatric care facility in Long Beach open, while also meeting state seismic requirements for hospitals."




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