St. Vincent hospital in Westlake District reopens to treat COVID-19 patients

St. Vincent Medical Center in the Westlake District is back in business to help address the outbreak of COVID-19 in L.A. County.

Monday, April 13, 2020
St. Vincent hospital reopens to treat COVID-19 patients
A hospital in the Westlake District is reopening to help address the outbreak of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.

WESTLAKE DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The St. Vincent Medical Center is back in business to help ease the pressure on local hospitals amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Staff set up beds and other equipment ready to receive patients with COVID-19 starting Monday.

The 266-bed facility will serve as a hospital accepting patients that have tested positive at a different regional hospital that may be at capacity.

RELATED: California to lease hospital in Westlake District to address COVID-19 outbreak in LA County

An unoccupied hospital in the Westlake District will be leased by California to help address the outbreak of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.

Last month when the state announced it would be leasing the closed hospital, Councilman Mitch O'Farrell praised it as the perfect location in the heart of the city.

"There's a nursing station on every floor. It really is an ideal setup and the hospital, sadly, was closed a month ago, so it's completely available," said O'Farrell.

St. Vincent Medical Center, which is being called a Los Angeles Surge Hospital, served L.A. for more than 150 years before shutting its doors in January after its current owner Verity Health System filed for bankruptcy.

The hospital, located at 3rd and Alvarado streets, is a temporary facility only meant to expand intensive care unit capacity for COVID-19 patients, but given the severe health crisis facing the city, O'Farrell said last month it likely will be a long fight.

"I think we're weeks and weeks away from even being able to say, 'Alright, the curve is flattening,'" O'Farrell said. "So, I think we're looking at this for a number of months and not weeks."

The facility will not have an emergency room and it will not be equipped to accept walk-up patients. Officials say they will be increasing capacity at the hospital slowly, in phases, until they reach capacity.

The operation is a collaboration with the county, Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health. It is not known how many COVID-19 patients will be transferred immediately.

California is leasing the facility to prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases as Gov. Gavin Newsom hopes to add 50,000 beds to the state's existing hospital capacity of 75,000 beds.