The foundation led by the owner of the Los Angeles Times will seek to purchase the shuttered St. Vincent Medical Center in the Westlake District and turn it into a hospital for coronavirus patients and research, it was reported Thursday.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele B. Chan, run the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, and it has offered to purchase St. Vincent for $135 million out of bankruptcy, the Times reported.
Soon-Shiong told the Times he intends to create a “central command” center that would attract doctors and experts on the virus, and relieve pressure on other hospitals.
“That’s what every city should have done, they should have established a central command,” Soon-Shiong told the Times, adding “we are in a war zone now.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said on March 20 that the state would lease St. Vincent, as well as Seton Medical Center in Daly City for $30 million to expand California’s hospital bed capacity. Soon-Shiong said his foundation’s purchase would “bolster that effort,” the Times reported.
The state’s medical staff will run the hospital, according to the Times.
A judge on Wednesday approved the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation as the lead bidder for the hospital at a federal bankruptcy court hearing. Competing offers must be submitted to the court by Friday, the Times reported.
The Times owner also said he’s not sure what the future of the hospital will be once the pandemic subsides, but he mentioned helping homeless is a priority.
Soon-Shiong, 67, is a physician, surgeon, researcher, philanthropist and scientist who invented and developed an effective cancer treatment drug, according to NantWorks, the company of which he’s the chairman and CEO.
Soon-Shiong acquired the Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2018 for about $500 million.
Calls to Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation were not immediately returned.
Los Angeles County offered a bid for the hospital in early February, and the city was also contemplating purchasing it. St. Vincent had 366 beds at the time it was closed.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell praised the county’s efforts to purchase the hospital at the time.
“What I hope is that, as we move forward with the appraisals … some good Samaritan will go to auction and … buy it and turn it over so that we can utilize it,” O’Farrell said.
Nonprofit Verity Health System announced in January that a proposed sale of the hospital in the Westlake District had fallen through, and the facility would be closing.
According to Verity, the system filed court papers seeking authority to close the medical center at 2131 W. Third St. Verity Health was working through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had hoped to transfer ownership of the hospital and three other medical centers.
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