Large fault line beneath Long Beach hospital forces closure

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
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Seismologists found there had been an earthquake along the line about 300 years ago.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A third study verified what the other two studies over an eight-year period had uncovered: a larger than expected -- and active -- fault line underneath Community Hospital Long Beach.

The discovery had Long Beach City Council members discussing what to do with the property in a closed session Tuesday. It was the first of many meetings to discuss when the closure will take place.

The Community Medical Center Long Beach's CEO, John Bishop, used a map to show where two red lines made a huge swath across the Community Hospital Long Beach campus.

"When we acquired the facility, we knew that there was an earthquake fault but it was larger than we thought and it was active," said Bishop.

Seismologists found there had been an earthquake along the line about 300 years ago. Any active fault line within 11,000 years means the hospital cannot remain open. And the city, which owns the property, must now decide what to do with it.

"We intend to work collaboratively with the city to find the best use of this facility because our mission as a not-for-profit is to continue to provide for our patients and the community," Bishop said.

The hospital provides long-term care to about 60 to 65 patients on average.

Benjamin Duru, a former hospital patient, couldn't believe the fault line discovery, "I wonder what where people are going to get the help they need that at least live around here," Duru said.

That includes Chaz Chesnick's daughter, who is a cancer survivor. He brought her to the medical center last Christmas, a five-minute drive, when she fell ill last winter. Now, he said, a trek to the hospital will be 15 minutes or more depending on traffic.

Chesnick said he'd like to see the property used by the entire community after the hospital closes. "Something where, you know, it's not going to cause heavy traffic flow coming especially off of PCH, but something that you can interact with the community more."

The hospital's CEO said the closure will affect about 400 full-time personnel, which includes some transfers to other facilities.