(January 7, 2021, 8:15 a.m.) -- As reported Jan. 7 by LBREPORT.com, Community Hospital of Long Beach was issued a license to partially re-open (with roughly a third of its capacity and limited services) that runs for roughly four months starting on Jan. 4, 2021 and expires on April 28, 2021.
Community Hospital's representatives have indicated in media releases that it plans to operate beyond April 28. So what procedural steps does licensee MWN have to take to continue operating past its current license's April 28 expiration date?
LBREPORT.com asked the CA Dept. of Public Health through its Office of Public Affairs. It responded to our inquiry as follows:
"The facility licensee will need to renew the license using the existing annual renewal process. This can include but is not limited to providing proper documentation and fees."
To date to our knowledge, Community Hospital license MWN Community Hospital LLC, its Pacific6 media rep, LB elected officials and the City of Long Beach have declined to publicly acknowledge the license's April 28 expiration date and have instead invited the inference that the hospital can add additional services (such as an ER or walk-in services) whenever it wishes, which isn't accurate because offering additional services ("suspended" under the current license) requires CDPH approval and may require additional inspections.
Its current four-month license states that the hospital is licensed to provide 11 ICU beds and 40 other beds for non-COVID-19 patients transferred on a physician's order from other facilities..CDPH's license currently specifies:
This LICENSE "is granted solely upon the following conditions, limitations and comments:"
In releasing a copy of the license to LBREPORT.com, the CA Dept. of Public Health CDPH Office of Public Affairs stated in an email: "Please note the terms and conditions outlined on the license, including the number of authorized beds effective January 4, 2021. If the facility wishes to add additional beds, they must file a Change of Service application which may trigger an additional field visit to determine the readiness to serve additional patients or provide additional services." .
Despite New Year's Eve information Tweeted by Mayor Robert Garcia and contained in a release by the City of Long Beach, the hospital's "reopening" was more accurately a partial reopening, offering only limited services with about a third of the hospital's 158 bed capacity.
The CDPH license issued Jan. 4, 2021 doesn't permit the hospital services listed below:
LBREPORT.com also filed a Public Records Act request in early April 2020 (with documents periodically received but not yet fully provided) after the LLC/Pacific6 issued releases in mid-March making claims about the hospital's readiness to reopen that proved untrue (as the hospital didn't reopen in March.) Documents received under the Public Records Act request show three state legislators -- state Senators Lena Gonzalez, Tom Umberg and Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell -- repeated the LLC's readiness claims in a March 18, 2020 jointly signed letter asking Governor Newsom to allocate a share of SB 89 COVID-related funds to MWN. (It's currently unclear if the Governor or his administration did so.)
A few weeks later on April 14, MWN received City Council voted approval (9-0) to use $250,000 in city taxpayer resources for elevator and possibly other repairs to be performed by city crews. The Council action included no guarantee of reimbursement to taxpayers for the advanced sum although the repair items were among those the LLC was supposed to perform under its Oct. 2019 lease with the City. [In LBREPORT.com's view, the Council action was a gift of public money (not necessarily illegal, a separate legal question.)]
Responding to an inquiry from LBREPORT.com, Brandon Dowling, Pacific6 Communications Director said in a Dec 23 email: "The $250,000 in elevator repairs were paid by the City of Long Beach and invoiced to the City of Long Beach. No money was ever 'given’ to MWN and we were never invoiced for the services."
As of dawn Jan. 8, it remains unclear exactly what items remain to be addressed that currently prevent Community Hospital from fully reopening and operating as a 158 bed acute care hospital.
In October 2019, the LB Council approved entering a lease with MWN that requires LB taxpayers to pay roughly $1 million-$2 million each year (totaling $25 million over 15 years) for seismic repairs AND cover suns advanced by MWN toward the hospital if for any reason MWN chooses to no longer operate the hospital as an acute care facility. At that point, the City would be required to reimburse MWN for its expended sums to date, an outcome that city staff warned Councilmembers (in the item's Oct. 2019 agendizing memo) was so costly that it could result in the City losing Community Hospital (with MWN given the ability to buy the facility.) .
The City release announcing the hospital's Jan. 4, 2021 "reopening" says that "over the past 18 months, more than $6 million has been put toward the reopening of the hospital including deferred maintenance, replacement of equipment, supplies, utility systems and refurbishments to both the exterior façade and interior rooms."
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