Hospital in Long Beach reopens amid surge of COVID-19 patients at other hospitals

It’s a medical center that is nearly 100 years old.

Community Hospital opened its doors to Central Long Beach in 1924. Many got care here over the years.

Brandon O’Neal says, "Some of my clients were actually born there."

He owns the spa across the street. It’s called Xclusive’s Spa Suites. He says people in the area feel a bond to the place. He says he’s glad to see the neighboring hospital reopening.

Says O’Neal, "Well, they have to go somewhere. You have clients that have strokes, heart attacks, babies... anything. it’s a safe place for them to go."

Working elsewhere, registered nurse Sharon Lofton has cared for more COVID-19 patients than she wants to remember. Sometimes, she has watched them take their last breath.

To her,"... it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking."

That’s why she’s so glad to see her old workplace back in business. This will be her second tour of duty at Community Hospital.

With the reopening, she says, "I think it’s fabulous. It’s gonna be wonderful. You know, it sort of relieves the pressure from other facilities at the same time it provides a shelter for those patients who need to be treated indoors."

She’s referring to the many crowded hospitals in the Long Beach area.

No one can just walk into the medical center and expect help as you’d do in an emergency room. Patients have to be transferred from another hospital at the request of a doctor.

Cardiologists like E. Mike Vasilomanolakis tells FOX11, "I’ve been at this hospital for about 38 years. We fought very hard to bring it back. We’ve been trying very hard for two and a half years."

He says during that time, new earthquake retrofitting requirements caused this place to have to undergo some major work. There was retrofitting work and the COVID-19 pandemic. And, as hospitals filled up, more attention was given to reopening Community Hospital.

Dr. Vasilomanolakis says, "I go to two other local hospitals and the hospitals are obviously filled up and they need more space to accommodate COVID patients. There are still patients in the hospital that they’re having trouble placing."

He says that’s why reopening this medical center is so important. Hospital officials say Community is licensed to handle 150 beds so as the need continues to grow the numbers may possibly rise.

Brandon Dowling with the hospital says, "Right now we’re opening with 11 ICU beds and 40 medical surgical beds to take some of the stress and burden off of other hospitals. We see patients sitting in hallways and parking lots of other buildings so we’re really looking at to get those patients and a medical setting with medical staff."

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