Olympia Medical Center is planning to close at end of March for extensive renovations, according to its website and news reports. How and why this makes sense in the middle of a pandemic when Los Angeles County hospitals are in pandemic crisis mode remains unanswered, as do questions from several media organizations, including the Buzz.
“Employees were outraged, blindsided and concerned, with one medical staff officer calling it a “terrible public health mistake” to close an L.A. hospital in the midst of the pandemic.
“How can we be having an acute-care hospital shut down by March 31 when we need hospital beds, when they’re putting up field hospitals and asking Navy ships to come back?” said the officer, Dr. Don Schiller. Any patients who remain at Olympia on April 1, he noted, will have to be transferred to another hospital because all clinical activity will stop.”
Olympia Medical Center, previously owned by Alecto Healthcare Hospital, was recently sold to UCLA Health. But neither organization has provided answers to media organizations about the new owners’ plans for the facility. Even Local officials, including CD4 Councilmember Nithya Raman, say they do not yet have details on the matter.
As the Beverly Press reported:
“This is the first we’ve heard about the planned voluntary suspension of all patient care services at Olympia Medical Center on March 31, 2021. We’ve reached out to both Olympia Medical Center and UCLA Health, which has purchased the property, to discuss the matter, as well as the envisioned long-term use of the facility,” read a statement from Raman. “At a moment in which COVID-19 is surging and ICU capacity in hospitals is at zero, we agree that any reduction in overall emergency services capacity in Los Angeles is cause for concern, and we’ll be following up as we learn more.”
Community members Roque Wicker, of the Mid City West Community Council, and Steven Rosenthal, of the Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, told news organizations the facility is going to be gutted and turned into a rehabilitation center or long-term care facility. But so far UCLA Health has only confirmed its ownership of the facility and not its plans for the building.
Olympia Medical Center was founded in 1947 by local physicians, and was owned by that group until it was sold to Alecto Healthcare Hospital in 2014. The Buzz reported on the hospital’s 70th anniversary celebration in 2018, at which hospital leadership won accolades for service to the community.
Here are photos of the closing announcement, provided by Mid City West Community Council Roque Wicker, which contain the only official information known so far: