LA councilman calls for billionaire to reopen vacant St. Vincent Medical Center for homeless care

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell started a petition Tuesday calling for the shuttered St. Vincent Medical Center to be reopened as an acute care center for people experiencing homelessness.

The vacant, 381-bed hospital in Westlake is owned by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who O'Farrell called "the richest person in Los Angeles." Soon-Shiong, a transplant surgeon, is the owner of the Los Angeles Times.

"He has owned this hospital and campus for over two years. Except for a very brief time in 2020, when the state paid Dr. Soon-Shiong $27 million to use the facility as a temporary COVID hospital, the property has sat vacant," O'Farrell said. "Rather than trying to sell it for redevelopment, and refusing to even consider working with us on adaptive reuse or repurposing, I urge Dr. Soon-Shiong to work with our broad coalition of local, county and state leaders to make something happen here to the benefit of all, and especially the most vulnerable in our region."

Carlos Vaquerano is the CEO of Clinica Romero, a community health center located near the hospital building.

"Please, to the owner of this hospital, open this hospital for the homeless population," Vaquerano said.
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One of the oldest hospitals in Southern California is closing its doors in the Westlake District after it was unable to complete a sale of the facility.

Soon-Shiong bought St. Vincent Medical Center two years ago, reportedly for $135 million. He outbid Los Angeles County for the property.

In a written statement to ABC7, he indicated a willingness to talk about reopening the facility.

"I agree that medical care and mental health services are important issues in confronting the homelessness crisis," Soon-Shiong said. "I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this in-depth with members of the City Council."

O'Farrell said he's planning on going to Sacramento in the next few weeks to ask for more money for the city to reopen the hospital as an acute-care facility. He's hoping that by then, the current ownership will be on board with that plan.
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