A federal bankruptcy court judge seized control of Brea (Calif.) Community Hospital and appointed a court trustee to begin arranging alternate care for some two dozen patients should the beleaguered hospital close. The 162-bed hospital had $13 million in debt and less than $10,000 in the bank as of Jan. 28. It could shut down within days if its owner, Brea Community Healthcare Corp., fails to secure emergency funding or find a buyer. Brea Community Healthcare has been embroiled in a legal battle with Spectrum Medical Center Partners, a 30-physician group that says it exercised an option to buy the hospital for $6 million in November 2004. Brea Community filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jan. 28, partly to fend off the acquisition. Hospital officials said they now were entertaining another suitor, Prime Healthcare Systems. In the fourth quarter of 2004, the hospital posted an operating loss of $1.2 million on operating revenue of $4.9 million, according to state data. Ten other California hospitals have closed or announced plans to close in the past 18 months. -- by Laura B. Benko
Bankruptcy court judge seizes control of Calif. hospital
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