MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center today filed a 120-day lease termination notice with the City of Long Beach on behalf of Community Medical Center. A statement from MemorialCare Health System, the hospital’s operator, indicated that decreasing staff levels are to blame for the facility’s imminent closure.


The statement also indicated that MemorialCare had attempted to seek an alternate use for the hospital as a behavioral health care facility, but that the City of Long Beach rejected this concept.


Late last year, MemorialCare Health System announced it would have to cease operation of emergency care at Community Medical Center by June 30, 2019, due to an inability to meet state seismic requirements. Since then, there has been an increasing number of departures by hospital staff seeking longer-term opportunities elsewhere, according to a press release from MemorialCare. The loss of staff has made it “increasingly challenging to maintain the depth of resources available and necessary to operate an acute care hospital,” resulting in the lease termination notice, according to the statement.


John Bishop, CEO of MemorialCare’s three Long Beach hospitals, stated that the severity of seismic issues would necessitate the destruction of large portions of the facility, leaving behind only the original 94-year-old structure with room for just 20 acute care beds.


Bishop stated that MemorialCare had been optimistic that the city would support the transition of the facility to behavioral health care, which he said both a third-party needs assessment and a study by the city’s health department identified as the “most critical health care need of the community.” He noted that these services were also in compliance with state seismic regulations.


“It was our sincere desire to facilitate the transition of Community Medical Center to another operator that would provide full-time behavioral health services at the Community Medical Center location,” Bishop stated. “However, in light of the city’s recent decision rejecting this concept, we were forced to evaluate our ability to maintain viable acute care operations at Community Medical Center. The hospital respects the due diligence of the city to make a decision on how best to utilize its land and buildings.”


Community Medical Center’s emergency department visits account for about 10% of total emergency room visits, according to MemorialCare. The health system’s statement indicated that three local hospitals, including Long Beach Medical Center, are expanding their emergency rooms.


“We recognize the needs of the Long Beach Fire Department to manage emergency health services and are committed to continue working hand-in-hand with the Fire Department to alleviate the impact on emergency departments as Long Beach Medical Center, St. Mary Medical Center and College Medical Center continue expanding their emergency services,” Bishop said.


A community taskforce was formed this year to try to save the hospital and keep emergency services opened. Their next meeting is scheduled for March 26 at 5 p.m., with a location to be decided.