California hospital to end acute care, close ED

A hospital in Long Beach, Calif., is closing its emergency department and ending acute medical services, a move that allows it to avoid about $75 million in upgrades needed to meet seismic requirements. 

Community Hospital Long Beach is ending acute medical services and plans to offer behavioral health, wellness and urgent care services instead. The transition is expected to take several months, the hospital's operator, MWN Community Hospital, announced Nov. 4. 

"The last 18 months have been centered around the complex challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic," John Molina, partner at MWN, said in a news release. "Delays in our hospital relicensing, limited availability of equipment, supplies and staff, and rapidly increasing costs for required construction have made operating an acute care hospital on the site unfeasible." 

Community Hospital Long Beach reopened earlier this year after closing in July 2018. The facility shut down after it was found to be on an active earthquake fault. If Community Hospital Long Beach were to remain an acute care facility, the cost for construction to bring it into compliance with California's seismic requirements would be more than $75 million, about $35 million more than originally anticipated, MWN said. 

The hospital operator cited low patient volume as another reason for the transition. Community Hospital Long Beach is licensed for 79 beds, but only about 25 beds are typically used by patients each day. The hospital's ED averaged 23.5 patients per day from May to September, down from an average of more than 90 patients per day before closing in 2018. 

MWN is partnering with the city of Long Beach, the Community Hospital Long Beach Foundation and local stakeholders on the transition.

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