One Of LA's Oldest Hospitals Is Closing

St. Vincent Medical Center (Reed Saxon/AP)

St. Vincent Medical Center, near downtown Los Angeles, will be closing its doors.

The hospital's owner, Verity Health System, filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Since then, efforts to sell the facility have fallen through.

A bankruptcy judge on Wednesday approved Verity's request to close the hospital, which employs more than 1,000 people and has more than 350 beds.

WHAT'S NEXT

It's not clear exactly when the doors will close. Here's what we do know:

  • Doctors with offices on the premises have been given until the end of April to vacate.
  • Current St. Vincent patients will receive care until they're discharged or can be safely transferred to nearby hospitals.
  • The company also said that ambulance service will be diverted to ER's in the vicinity.
  • That will include the eight hospitals within a three-mile radius of St. Vincent.

The decision to close the hospital "has not been taken lightly and comes only after exhausting every option to keep this hospital open," Verity CEO Rich Adcock said in a statement.

"While we regret the closure of St. Vincent, we know that this community will continue to be well-served by nearby hospitals," he said.

THE BACKSTORY

St. Vincent was opened in 1856 by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, an order of nuns that dates back to 17th century France. The hospital's website describes it as the "oldest hospital in Los Angeles."

WHAT ABOUT THE CURRENT EMPLOYEES?

It's also unclear how many of the more than 1,000 employees of the facility will lose their jobs. Verity said it will hold a job fair for staff affected by the closure.

California Nurses Association President Zenei Cortez said St. Vincent's nurses are "seasoned and marketable," and should have no trouble finding new jobs.

CNA opposed the closure; it argued that a shutdown would deprive the area of a needed source of health care.

"St. Vincent is not a retail store, where they can just decide to close down the next day," said Christine Chung, a registered nurse who's worked at the hospital for more than 13 years.

"It is a hospital that has responsibility and accountability to the community to provide the services it needs," she said.

The CNA also argued that Verity was violating a state law that requires hospitals to notify the public 90 days before the closure of a facility that has emergency services.

WHAT ABOUT THE DOCTORS' OFFICES?

Ten physicians at St. Vincent wrote a letter asking bankruptcy court Judge Ernest Robles to extend the deadline for them to close their offices from March 31 to June 30.

The letter said the doctors received notice of the impending closure on January 6. "The unrealistic notice does not give us time to properly notify or transfer patients to other physicians for care," it said.

Robles ended up giving them until April 30.