Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n


Saint John’s Foundation Endorses Bid by Los Angeles’ Richest Resident

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf Ranch. Santa Monica Pier

By Jorge Casuso

May 16, 2013 -- The Saint John’s Health Center Foundation threw its weight Wednesday behind a bid by its largest donor to buy the 61-year-old center from the SCL (Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth) Health System.

The Foundation -- which has raised more than $580 million to rebuild the hospital and fund healthcare initiatives -- publicly endorsed a bid sponsored by the Santa Monica non-profit Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, headed by Los Angeles’ wealthiest resident.

The move comes after Foundation leaders claim they have been shut out of the process to solicit interest from four Catholic health systems in purchasing Saint John’s Health Center, the John Wayne Cancer Institute and related real estate holdings.

 “Despite repeated requests to participate in an open and transparent dialog, the Foundation trustees and doctors have been denied active and meaningful participation in the evaluation of the respective bids, including the unsolicited bid by The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health,” Foundation officials wrote in a statement.

“The Foundation and doctors’ experience, knowledge and active involvement in the community would have lent invaluable insight in selecting a new partner, or partners, who would be culturally compatible, bringing with them unprecedented financial resources and the community ties needed to solidify the strong foundation already established.”

The foundation’s endorsement of Soon-Shiong -- whose charity has committed $135 million to the hospital -- won the immediate support of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"We believe the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute proposal serves the local community, the hospital, its Catholic mission and the Sisters of Charity,” said Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark wrote in a statement issued Wednesday.

“If the community bid is finalized, the Archdiocese would be involved in ensuring that the hospital continues to follow ethical and religious directives according to Catholic teaching and that Saint John’s continues to serve the local community as a Catholic-based institution,” Clark wrote.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute is not the only major player in the bidding for the Santa Monica Institution, which opened in 1942. In March, the Los Angeles Times announced that SCL Health System was weighing a proposal by a potential partnership between UCLA and Ascension Health Alliance.

Another major contender is Providence Health & Services, a Catholic hospital chain that owns five Southern California hospitals, including St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.

The endorsement by the Foundation, made in close partnership with the physician leadership of Saint John’s Heath Center and John Wayne Cancer Institute, comes five and a half months after SCL Health System ousted the health center’s two top executives and 15 members of its 17-member board.

SCL Health System executives had little to say about the abrupt dismissals or about the future direction of its Foundation, other than to affirm that they were “setting off on a new strategic direction.”

Soon-Shiong was said to be “shocked and disturbed” by the unexpected firing of Saint John's CEO Lou Lazatin, who was escorted from the premises by SCL Health System executives who flew into Santa Monica, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The shakeup raised questions about the future role of the Foundation, which raises nearly $10 million a year for Saint John's community benefits program, which helps fund everything from local schools and homeless agencies to senior and youth programs.

On Wednesday, Foundation officials said Soon-Shiong’s bid “would further enhance Saint John’s capabilities, bringing world class physicians and potentially historic advancements in genomic sequencing, cancer care,  personalized medicine, and orthopedic/sports medicine to the community.

“We believe that a weaker partner who has inadequate financial resources as well as limited experience and clout in the local community would severely restrict the ability of Saint John’s to retain its healthcare leadership in the Santa Monica and West Los Angeles communities,” Foundation officials wrote.

Soon-Shiong was a major donor to the massive effort to rebuild Saint John’s after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, giving $35 million in January 2007 to help replace the half-century-old facility with a state-of the art hospital.

The donation, which was the largest in the center’s history, helped pay for the 285,000-square-foot Howard Keck Center, which opened in July 2009 and boasts cutting-edge medical technology and a system of “base isolators” that allow the large building to move in all directions, rather than sway, during a major temblor.

The donation also helped build the Chang Soon-Shiong Center for Translational Sciences, a facility where researchers and doctors could test the latest biomedical breakthroughs on patients.

In March 2012, Saint John’s Health Center announced the creation of the Chan Soon Shiong Musculo-Skeletal Science Center, a state-of-the-art orthopedic and sports medicine center that will provide quality care from treatment to rehabilitation.

Soon-Shiong, whose estimated $7.2 billion fortune ranked him 39th among US billionaires by Forbes in 2011, is a co-inventor of more than 50 issued U.S. patents and sold two multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies.

Lookout Logo footer image copyrightCopyright 1999-2013 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL