A historic Long Beach hospital reopened Monday to receive patients in an effort to relieve crowding at area hospitals hard hit by the coronavirus.
Though Community Hospital Long Beach will not accept COVID-19 patients or other walk-ins, it will provide 11 intensive care unit beds for patients transferring from nursing homes and other local hospitals. The facility has space for 40 additional patients.
Southern California has been gripped by a recent surge in coronavirus cases. ICUs are at capacity, and some ambulances have had to wait up to eight hours to offload patients. As of Sunday, the most recent day for which complete data are available, there were 7,898 coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized countywide, with 1,627 of them in intensive care.
Officials are concerned they’ll see an additional surge in hospitalizations by the end of this week or early next week.
As the feared post-Christmas spike appears to be materializing in L.A. County, more than 14,000 new coronavirus cases have appeared each day on average over the last week, according to The Times’ tracker. The death toll is also skyrocketing, with an average of 184 new daily deaths over the same span. Eighty-five new deaths were reported in the county Sunday. More than 26,000 have died of COVID-19 across the state.
In Long Beach, more than 33,000 residents have been infected with the virus, according to the city’s tracker, and more than 400 people have died. Nearly 24,000 have recovered.
“We expect the hospital reopening to have an immediate impact on local capacity and our ability to save lives,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.
The hospital had been in operation for 94 years before closing in 2018 after a report revealed the facility sits on an active earthquake fault. The building now meets all current seismic requirements, according to its operator, Molina, Wu, Network.
The California Department of Public Health last month granted a license to Molina, Wu, Network, which has invested more than $6 million toward the reopening of Community Hospital. The license allows the acute-care facility to operate up to 158 beds.
After increasing essential services during its reopening, the hospital plans to open its emergency department in March, according to a news release.
Times staff writer Soumya Karlamangla contributed to this report.