The Community Hospital Long Beach Foundation has issued a grant of $1 million to the City of Long Beach to assist with the seismic retrofitting of the hospital, which is necessary to reopen the facility and its acute care unit.

The grant was designed as a reimbursement for the cost of a contract with architecture firm Perkins+Will, the same company the city previously hired to create a seismic compliance plan as part of a feasibility study on reopening the hospital. “This is a major first step in the process of developing the construction plans that will ultimately aid us in the process of achieving seismic compliance for Community Hospital Long Beach,” Long Beach Economic Development Director John Keisler told the city council during a meeting on April 2.

Founded in 1972, the foundation has dedicated its efforts to supporting the historic hospital, collecting donations and supporting the facility with $40 million over the past five decades, according to Executive Director Matthew Faulkner. “We felt that this was a way that we could impact and affect a very positive condition for the hospital,” Faulkner said. “That kind of investment into real estate, it made sense to us as an entity that had really focused on the hospital to fulfill our mission and our obligation to our mission, which is to keep the hospital here.”

Faulkner said the foundation had been discussing a grant to support the seismic retrofitting efforts since last year, but couldn’t make an official offer to the city until an agreement with operator Molina, Wu, Network, LLC (MWN), had been approved by the council. Once the agreement was approved last month, the process moved along swiftly. “This was a thoughtful decision and one that had unanimous support from our board,” Faulkner said.

The funds are restricted, Faulkner noted, and can only be used for the purpose of planning the seismic retrofit. In addition, the foundation recently announced plans to set up a fund specifically to collect money for the city’s efforts to reopen the hospital. “We are here to help,” Faulkner said.

The public-private partnership between the city and MWN has created an avenue for tax-free contributions – like those provided by the foundation – as well as grants from the state and federal governments to help finance construction costs. “The structure of this deal allows the city to receive that kind of support,” Faulkner said. “I think we’ve got a very unique partnership [here] and it might prove to be a way forward for other hospitals in California.”