UPDATED, April 9, 10:27 a.m.: Billionaire businessman Patrick Soon-Shiong now wants to personally buy the financially-troubled St. Vincent Medical Center, which the state is now leasing to treat Covid-19 patients.
Soon-Shiong last week said he wanted to buy the 366-bed hospital out of bankruptcy through his Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation. Verity Health System owns the facility, which had been forced to shutter in January, and California is now leasing it for $2.6 million a month.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned that the Soon-Shiong foundation purchase could be “self-dealing,” because the businessman owns a separate company that is a creditor in Verity’s bankruptcy proceedings, according to the Los Angeles Times. Soon-Shiong offered to pay $135 million for the 134-year-old hospital near downtown.
Soon-Shiong now says he’ll “fund the purchase personally, instead of through the foundation, so as to avoid the baseless appearance of a conflict,” according to the report.
He bought the Los Angeles Times in 2018 and moved its headquarters to El Segundo, and has greatly expanded his real estate holdings across Southern California in recent years. But the hospital purchase appears only intended to ensure that the struggling facility has long-term viability.
Soon-Shiong has said he wants to turn it into a coronavirus “command center,” hoping St. Vincent’s can accept coronavirus patients to relieve the pressure on other hospitals, and also wants to bring in experts on the virus to work there, the Times reported. California remains under a statewide stay-at-home order, with all nonessential businesses closed.
Becerra said his office has the power to review the sale of any nonprofit hospital in the state.
Attorneys for Verity, however, claim the company doesn’t operate the property as a hospital so the attorney general’s approval would not be necessary. A hearing on the proposed sale is scheduled for Friday. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Los Angeles as leasing the hospital. In fact, it is the state of California.