Los Angeles County can only afford to build a dramatically scaled-down 350-bed replacement for County-USC Medical Center with $410 million that the federal government has promised for the nation’s busiest public hospital.
Any new medical center larger than that would require the financially strapped county to borrow heavily to finance construction, Health Services Director Mark Finucane told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Health officials are still studying the county’s options for replacing the Depression-era landmark in Boyle Heights, which sustained extensive damage in the Northridge earthquake. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced in March that the county would receive federal and state assistance to repair or rebuild County-USC Medical Center.
The county had embarked on construction of a 946-bed hospital, but the board ordered a halt to the $1.2-billion project last year as the county’s health and financial crises worsened.
“I don’t see the money available for a 900-bed facility,” said board Chairman Mike Antonovich, adding that he does not want the county to go heavily into debt to build a hospital.