The judge overseeing the Verity Health bankruptcy case is poised to allow Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong's foundation to buy and reopen a shuttered Los Angeles hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ernest Robles approved the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation as the lead bidder on 366-bed St. Vincent Medical Center, which Verity closed in January. The foundation, owned by Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele B. Chan, has offered to buy the hospital for $135 million and reopen it to treat coronavirus patients.
Robles has scheduled a hearing on the proposed sale for April 10.
Soon-Shiong is a billionaire physician-entrepreneur and head of the health technology company NantWorks, which bought a stake in Verity in 2017. He also owns a handful of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. He told the Times that he plans to use the hospital as a "command center."
"That's what every city should have done, they should have established a central command," he told the paper.
Verity would plan to lease St. Vincent to the California state government, which would operate the facility. Kaiser and Dignity Health would provide the staff.
St. Vincent was originally slated to be purchased by a group called Strategic Global Management, but that $610 million deal fell through, giving way to a legal spat between SGM and Verity. Verity said no other buyers were interested in the hospital at the time.
The California Nurses Association had opposed closing St. Vincent back in January, arguing its emergency department treated more than 80 patients per day.
St. Vincent was the first hospital in Los Angeles when it opened in 1856. A new facility opened in 1971 at its current location. The hospital served residents of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.