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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Doctors, Residents Get Approval to Take Over Hospital

October 11, 2000

LONG BEACH — The coalition of doctors and residents who stopped the permanent closing of Long Beach Community Medical Center now will get the chance to run the hospital.

The Save Our Neighborhood Hospital Committee has been tentatively tapped to be the 278-bed hospital's new operator, officials said Tuesday night. Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill said the city and the coalition could begin negotiating the terms of a lease of Community Medical Center's buildings as early as today.

Citing operating losses, the nonprofit chain Catholic Healthcare West announced in June that it would close Community Medical Center this fall. But the coalition, led by a real estate agent and a hospital urologist, incorporated 72 hours after the announcement and fought the move so bitterly that Catholic Healthcare agreed to keep the license in suspension and return the facility to the city so a new operator could be found.

Operations at the hospital ceased Sept. 29.

That same month, five groups, including the coalition, submitted bids to the city to take over the hospital. A team of six senior Long Beach officials considered the bids and decided, after a meeting late Monday, to select the coalition.

The city's choice was widely expected. No other contender was as serious as the coalition, city officials said.

The new Community Medical Center will be a downsized version of its former self. At first, it will have just 75 beds. And the facility's tower will be turned over to Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College for nursing training, a shift designed to reduce the coalition's expected liability for $20.3 million in seismic retrofitting costs.

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