Its image tarnished by a Medi-Cal scandal that could send some former executives to prison, the former City of Angels Medical Center was officially rededicated under a new name last week.

The downtown L.A. hospital opened up as Silver Lake Medical Center, even though it is nearly a mile from the commonly recognized borders of the trendy neighborhood.

However, Success Healthcare LLC, a Boca Raton, Fla., hospital operator that bought the facility in November, admits to making a marketing move. The idea, of course, is to cash in on the cachet associated with the Silver Lake name.

"There was a definite desire to make a break with the past," said Chief Executive Stephen D. Popkin, a veteran L.A.-area hospital administrator who came on board in January.

That's not to say the new ownership, which took over in late November, doesn't plan operational or strategic changes at the 35-year-old hospital, with the general idea being to provide a quality, small hospital alternative to larger neighbors such as Good Samaritan Hospital.

City of Angels' former leadership was implicated last year in a scheme to defraud Medi-Cal and Medicare by recruiting homeless Skid Row residents to be admitted to the hospital for unnecessary treatments. A former hospital senior vice president, Dante Nicholson, pleaded guilty last month to paying kickbacks to recruiters, and City of Angels' former owner Robert Bourseau faces charges. Two other people pleaded guilty last year.

Success Healthcare is affiliated with Promise Healthcare, which owns long-term acute care hospitals in several states and manages the two-campus Promise Hospital of East Los Angeles. Both companies are controlled by Florida-based health care industry entrepreneur Peter R. Baronoff.

Silver Lake Medical also has two campuses: the main hospital on West Temple Street and a 47-bed psychiatric hospital six miles away called the Ingleside Campus.

The psychiatric hospital attracts patients from as far away as Bakersfield, but Popkin is marketing the acute care hospital to a more local patient base. Last week's ceremony included representatives from the Filipino and Hispanic communities.

USC Obtains Hospitals

Over at USC's Health Sciences Campus, Mitchell R. Creem also faces the task of remaking two hospitals in their new owner's image.

Creem took over last week as chief executive of USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital after Tenet Healthcare Corp. completed their sale to the university.

Though Creem competed with several candidates for the job, the veteran hospital executive did have an inside edge. He was recruited as vice provost in June to help USC negotiate the sale and ensure a smooth transition.