In March 2021, Mid-Wilshire's Olympia Medical Center closed its doors, leaving its future uncertain. A notice issued this month by the University of California finally sheds light on what's to come.
UCLA Health, which acquired the hospital campus at 5900 Olympic Boulevard in January 2021, plans to transform the facility into an acute Neuropsychiatric hospital, featuring 119 inpatient beds as well as clinical and support spaces. According to the notice, the hospital's existing West building is to be demolished and replaced, while new pathways, utilities, and landscaping are planned around the perimeter of the complex.
According to a September 2021 staff report to the University of California's Board of Regents, the project will serve as the new location for 74 inpatient psychiatric beds from currently housed within the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, thus allowing for an expansion of inpatient beds for other purposes.
The need for additional space comes as UCLA's existing facilities are pushed to capacity. While UCLA Health officials have previously recommended the construction of a new 156-bed patient tower at the system's main hospital, the estimated $1-billion price tag and 12-year timeline for such an endeavor has led to other alternatives being considered. Namely, the acquisition and renovation of existing healthcare facilities.
The staff report also notes that UCLA is one of only a handful of remaining providers of inpatient behavioral health services, with many potential patients often incarcerated in the jail system due to a lack of treatment. As of last year, there were just 13 psychiatric beds per 100,000 residents in Los Angeles, less than the industry standard of 50 beds per 100,000 residents.
The former Olympia Medical Center complex will serve as the centerpiece of a $400-million Mid-Wilshire campus for UCLA Health, which is working with HGA to design the new facility. According to the staff report, the proposed makeover will include changes to both the interior and exteriors of the existing structures.
According to a project website, construction is expected to occur between 2024 and 2026.
Although the project may be a boon to psychiatric healthcare in L.A. County, it comes as a blow to the former patients of Olympia Medical Center, who loudly protested against the closure of the facility. The L.A. Times reported in 2021 that the shuttered hospital served a predominantly low-income, minority population.
- Mid-Wilshire (Urbanize LA)