LA Downtown Medical Center (LADMC) was founded in March 2019 after co-owners Bill Nelson and Vicki Palana Rollins purchased the prior facility, Silverlake Medical Center, through bankruptcy proceedings. As a result of the prior bankruptcy history, the facility required significant capital improvements. However, in a very short period, the hospital’s management team rallied together under the leadership of Bill and Vicki to transform the safety-net community hospital into a CMS 5-star rated facility two years in a row. The hospital is currently licensed for 269 patient beds spread across two campuses, including 147 much-needed acute psychiatric beds.
Just as LADMC was getting off the ground, St Vincent’s Medical Center, a specialty hospital in the local community, known to be the first hospital in Los Angeles, suddenly announced its closure in January of 2020. LADMC took a leadership role in opening its doors to physicians and patients that were left with a significant void following the hospital’s closure. Shortly thereafter, the COVID pandemic hit Los Angeles in March 2020 and the hospital’s leadership immediately recognized the need for additional patient rooms because of the pandemic’s surge. In one month’s time, administration rehabilitated an abandoned medical unit that had been vacated for 20+ years, allowing LADMC staff to serve and care for an additional 35 patients. Much of this new capacity was utilized for patients who required significant care due to COVID and these beds are now fully licensed.
According to board chair and former CEO, Bill Nelson, “We didn’t know what the needs of the community would be early in the pandemic, but we just knew we had to be ready to answer the call.”
During the height of the pandemic, LADMC’s leadership team and clinical providers rallied together to secure life-saving treatments and supplies (i.e. Remdesivir, PPEs and COVID test kits) for its patients and staff. In fact, the hospital set up multiple drive-through testing sites for local community members despite its own shortage of available testing supplies. The team rallied again for the local community and area non-profits, such as the Dream Center of Los Angeles, to ensure that those most at-risk received COVID vaccines. Additionally, the Administration team constructed a “spa” area for doctors and staff to get much needed stress relief and the team has since built a commercial gym in the hospital’s lobby free for all Hospital staff.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the LADMC Governing Board and Administration team members launched the LADMC Foundation, a non-profit focused on supporting the local community by providing free groceries, vaccines and medical exams to assist the surrounding low-income population of downtown Los Angeles. Additionally, the LADMC Foundation is furthering nursing education in the community by providing financial grants, as well as providing placement for homeless and mentally ill individuals in the surrounding community.
Given LADMC’s specialty in psychiatric acute care, the hospital and its staff are at the forefront of the post-pandemic mental health crisis in the city of Los Angeles. The hospital has seen the pandemic’s carnage first-hand, both in terms of those who were treated with COVID at the hospital in its general acute care setting, as well as in terms of those who suffer from mental illness as a result of the pandemic.
CEO Mark Valentino stated, “I think we are in the very early stages of acknowledging how the last 12 months have weighed on mental health across our community. No one is immune from the potential devastation of social isolation, regardless of race and socio-economic status.”
While the number of hospitals operating in downtown Los Angeles has declined over the years, LADMC remains committed to helping those suffering physically or mentally in the surrounding community.
In the words of Board Member, Vicki Palana Rollins, “To care is human. LADMC cares and cares deeply. We remain ready and committed to answering the health needs of members of our downtown Los Angeles community.”
Learn more at ladowntownmc.com.