Los Angeles Surge Hospital That Treated COVID-19 Patients Now Appears To Be Site Of Full-Scale Hollywood Production

The Daily Wire:

As California officials warn about an impending wave of COVID-19 infections, a shuttered hospital in Los Angeles that briefly reopened in the spring to help treat an expected surge of cases now appears to be the site of a major Hollywood production.

The parking lot of the former St. Vincent Medical Center is currently filled with trailers typically used by movie studios and television production companies for on-location shoots. A truck from a company called Cinelease, which describes itself as “a market leader in lighting and grip equipment rentals,” sits nearby. Tents cover outdoor dining areas and a line of cooks, who are busy preparing food.

What could be interpreted as a makeshift crew parking sign pointing to an indoor lot reads “TRIAGE,” a common word around hospitals but also the name of a pilot greenlit by ABC executives earlier this year.

After a shortage of intensive-care unit beds triggered a regional stay-at-home order throughout Southern California and beyond, public health authorities have been warning of a wave of new infections from Thanksgiving gatherings that is about to hit.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire who owns The Los Angeles Times, purchased the former 366-bed hospital out of bankruptcy earlier this year for $135 million. After a federal judge approved the sale on April 10, The Times reported that its owner “plans to create a coronavirus research facility on the campus” that would “attract doctors and experts on the virus” and “relieve pressure on other hospitals.”

The bankruptcy judge conveyed a sense of urgency for the parties to complete the transaction. Judge Ernest M. Robles wrote, “there is a risk that the purchaser will walk away if the sale does not close promptly, since the purpose of the sale – establishing a research center to address the COVID-19 pandemic – would be defeated absent a prompt closing.”

As the L.A. Times reported at the time:

Before Soon-Shiong purchased the hospital, the state announced in March that it would lease the empty hospital. The state is paying $16 million for a six-month lease, an agreement that’s now been transferred to Soon-Shiong.

The state is also paying healthcare companies Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health a monthly management fee of $500,000 each to oversee the hospital.

The state will also pay for equipment and hospital staff. The total cost will depend on the number and acuity of patients treated, said Rodger Butler, a spokesman with the California Health and Human Services Agency.

The temporary state-funded hospital opened on the St. Vincent complex on April 13, three days after the bankruptcy judge approved the property’s sale to Soon-Shiong.

State officials said the pop-up facility was needed to secure additional beds to treat COVID-19 patients. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom had said California would need 50,000 more beds to respond to what was to come. Called the Los Angeles Surge Hospital (LASH), it only admitted coronavirus patients who met certain criteria.

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