MID-CITY — Whoever ends up buying Saint John’s Health Center will take over the current agreement with City Hall, parking situation and all.
The California Attorney General is evaluating the proposed sale of the hospital, from Sisters of Charity Leavenworth to Providence Health Systems, and will make a final decision based on the impacts it might have on healthcare service in the area.
A report by the Attorney General noted that the agreement between the two Catholic nonprofit corporations does not guarantee the continuation of community benefits or charity care but, city officials said, anyone that purchases the hospital will take over City Hall’s decades-long development agreement, which includes those guarantees.
The total to be paid by Providence, according to the report, is $125 million plus “an amount of money equal to the Closing Working Capital.”
If the sale goes through, Providence would continue to pay community benefits, which have averaged $3.4 million annually over the past 5 years.
The agreement with City Hall also dictates the hospital’s parking situation, which has long frustrated residents in the surrounding neighborhood.
In 1998, the hospital promised to build a new parking structure. It was never built and in 2011 city officials amended the agreement, allowing the hospital to cobble together a group of owned and leased parking spaces throughout the neighborhood.
That agreement is still in flux. Earlier this year, they lost the lease on a large number of parking spaces. City Hall gave the hospital a deadline to provide more spaces. In October, they opened an entry plaza with more spaces but had to close another lot for reconfiguration. Last week, that lot reopened and now Saint John’s will be required to perform a parking study.
“The Walker Study is scheduled to be completed next week,” wrote Sarah Phelan, a communications manager at Saint John’s, in an e-mail. “They will then submit their report to (City Hall), and (City Hall) will inform us on what needs to be done from there so we can remain compliant.”
Even with the newly added spaces, the hospital is 215 spaces down from its total earlier this year. City Hall will evaluate Saint John’s parking study to determine if more spaces are needed. This study is also required to address the impacts associated with the cost of parking.
Residents claim that the lack of parking combined with its cost — $13 after 90 minutes, $35 for the day — pushes patients and employees to park for free on the street.
At a public meeting earlier this week, several neighbors asked the Attorney General to include stipulations in its agreement with Providence, requiring them to provide affordable parking.