Historic Long Beach hospital reopens to free up other medical facilities amid COVID surge

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The historic Community Hospital Long Beach was granted a license to reopen, and it began receiving transfer patients Monday to free up other hospitals to care for COVID-19 patients.

The hospital, which opened in 1924 and closed in 2018, now has 11 intensive care unit beds and space for 40 other patients, but coronavirus patients will not be admitted.

The hospital is intended to free up space at other hospitals to care for patients with the coronavirus, according to the Long Beach Joint Information Center.

"With hospitals across our city and state at capacity, this reopening is critical for the safety and care of our community,'' said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "Community Hospital is a local institution and I'm incredibly grateful to our hospital partners and the state for getting it open. We expect the hospital reopening to have an immediate impact on local capacity and our ability to save lives.''

Nearly 400 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in Long Beach, according to officials. Southern California's ICU capacity is at 0%.

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Officials planned to reopen the hospital before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and $6 million has been put toward that goal in the past 18 months, officials said.

The money has funded maintenance, equipment replacement, supplies, utility systems and refurbishments to the exterior facade and interior rooms, according to officials.

"This has been one of my highest priorities for the 4th Council District and the entire city. We are so happy to have this important healthcare asset back in our community,'' said Long Beach Councilman Daryl Supernaw.

The hospital will keep expanding its services, and in March 2021 an emergency department is set to open.

"We're on track to expand services within the next 90 days and this initial opening allows us to fully ramp up our essential services so that we can provide a comprehensive level of quality care at the hospital,'' said Virg Narbutas, Chief Executive Officer of Community Hospital Long Beach.

The license from the California Department of Public Health allows the hospital to operate up to 158 beds in its acute-care facility, officials said.

"We are very pleased that our efforts to support the relicensing of Community Hospital, together with our partners MWN, LLC and the city, have enabled this reopening and we look forward to sharing plans for the future of the hospital,'' said Ray Burton, chairman of the CHLB Foundation.
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