YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

New Hospital May Go Up Near County-USC

Board of Supervisors approves talks with Shriners on the lease of land for a 60-bed, 250,000-square-foot facility to treat children.

July 07, 2006|Juliet Chung | Times Staff Writer

A private nonprofit children's hospital would move to a site near Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and USC University Hospital under a plan being negotiated with the county, officials said Thursday.

Shriners Hospitals for Children, Los Angeles, began talks with the county this week for a long-term lease on county land two blocks from County-USC, officials said. The contract for Shriners, currently about four miles west, would either be for a no- or low-cost lease.

State law mandates that the 54-year-old Shriners hospital either be reinforced to meet stiff seismic standards imposed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake or that a new facility be built by 2013.

An analysis conducted for the hospital concluded that a new building would be more cost-effective, according to Shriners.

County officials praised the potential relocation of the hospital, which provides free care to youngsters up to 18 years of age who have neuromuscular disorders, limb deficiencies, burn deformities and craniofacial disorders.

"This is a public-private partnership that's going to allow Shriners hospital to continue its lifesaving work with children," said county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who co-sponsored a motion instructing the county to begin negotiations for a land-use agreement with Shriners. The board this week unanimously approved the motion.

Dr. Bruce Chernof, director of the county's Department of Health Services, said constructing a new children's hospital next to County-USC would be beneficial for both facilities.

"It gives us the ability to develop a patient base that is broad enough to attract top-level national and international sub-specialists," he said. "That's good for everybody."

The new hospital would be 250,000 square feet and have 60 beds.

It would be near transportation hubs, including Union Station and the Golden State and San Bernardino freeways, and be designed to meet the hospital's current needs, which have changed significantly since it opened its doors, said Terence Cunningham, chief executive of the L.A. Shriners.

For example, the hospital does not have a craniofacial laboratory -- of high importance given Shriners' emphasis -- because its initial focus was on caring for polio patients.

"If you're going to do massive redesigns to meet those new medical delivery needs, it suddenly dawns on you that it might be more cost-effective just getting a bare piece of land," Cunningham said.

Moving next to a major university medical center would also allow medical residents and patients in need of other care to be able to shuttle easily between Shriners and County-USC, he said.

Shriners would pay to build and operate the children's hospital.

The new hospital would not be a financial burden to the county, county officials said.

Shriners also would reimburse County-USC, whose new hospital is under construction, for any services it obtained from the medical center.

Chernof said the likelihood of Shriners siphoning off paying patients from the county was slim.

"There's a common mission but a different patient base," he said, noting that Shriners draws its patients from throughout the Southwest while County-USC serves a local population. "They don't cross over to any significant degree."

An update on the negotiations is expected next month.

Los Angeles Times Articles