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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Why a closing hospital might make perfect homeless housing

St. Vincent Medical Center
A statue of St. Vincent stands at the front of St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: L.A. Times reader Patricia McVerry is a visionary for suggesting to columnist Steve Lopez that city leaders consider repurposing St. Vincent Medical Center as housing for homeless people after its impending closure.

The costs of doing this might be significantly less than estimated. The medical center’s valuation includes hospital equipment and beds that can be sold elsewhere. The facility could house significantly more than the 366 licensed beds.

The building is structurally sound and has electrical and plumbing that with minimal modification could provide a home for more than 600 people as well as house supportive social work, job training and food services. The emergency room could easily be repurposed as both a sobering center as well as mental health urgent care. This could relieve overcrowding in nearby ERs.

For less than $50,000 per individual, we could decrease the city’s homeless population by 2% as well as improve the lives of countless others living on our streets.

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Howard C. Mandel, MD, Los Angeles

The writer is president of the Los Angeles City Health Commission.

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To the editor: As the spouse of an employee losing her job, I appreciate your coverage of the closure of St. Vincent Medical Center. We love everyone who dedicated their working lives to serving the impacted community.

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The broader question implicit in the hospital’s demise is this: If such a facility cannot survive financially with 70% of its patient population relying on Medicare and Medi-Cal, how will any hospital survive if all the patients relied on “Medicare for all”?

Please dedicate some space to a real assessment of this supposed panacea. I am for universal healthcare, but maybe the German system of mixed public and private options rather than Medicare for all makes better sense.

Bernie Resser, Pacific Palisades


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