The New Year is a traditional time for a fresh start and positive change. And for Huntington Beach Hospital, such a statement rings true.

The hospital on Beach Boulevard, which has been open since 1967, converted to nonprofit operation on Jan. 1 and is looking to better serve the Huntington Beach community, officials said.

Prime Healthcare Services – which has owned the hospital since 2006 – donated the facility to its charity branch, the Prime Healthcare Foundation.

"Not-for-profit hospitals, born out of community need, are steeped in the tradition of providing tangible benefit in the form of healthcare services to their patient populations," said Sophia Abrina, chief nursing officer of Huntington Beach Hospital in an email. "Huntington Beach Hospital will partner with community groups to identify needs, strengthen existing programs, improve collective health, and to increase access to preventive care to vulnerable individuals in the community at large."

Dr. Hassan Alkhouli, chief medical officer of Huntington Beach Hospital, said the switch will change the way it operates only in a positive manner.

He said the hospital has always provided more care to under-insured and uninsured patients than most Orange County hospitals and that that will not change.

"But what will happen, what being a not-for-profit allows us, is to reinvest money back into the facility," he said.

The facility's staff of 500, 300 of whom are physicians, will carry on their duties as if nothing had changed.

"It is business as usual. Anybody that will be walking by will never know whether this hospital is for profit or not-for-profit," Alkhouli said.

Money generated by the hospital will now go toward new projects that will benefit it and the community, while its nonprofit status will allow it to apply for medical grants.

Such grants can also be used to create new services, one of which could be transportation for patients, Alkhouli said. He added that the board of directors will listen to community members and see if they can accommodate their needs.

Patients can also look forward to seeing more discounts from the hospital to help pay for medical expenses, Alkhouli said.

Part of taking on the role of a not-for-profit includes having to do a comprehensive community needs assessment.

"You seek the help of the community members, the board, or elsewhere, and explore the needs of the community," Alkhouli said.

Kathleen Curran, marketing coordinator at Huntington Beach Hospital, said the facility already supports 45 community organizations.

"That's going to continue and I imagine that it's going to grow," she said.

Now that the hospital carries no debt and has taken on the role of a nonprofit, Alkhouli is looking forward to see what new contributions he and the other staffers of Huntington Beach Hospital can offer the city.

"I'm excited to have access for services to the community without the fear of doing something because it is for profit," he said. "It will free us more to meet the needs of the people."

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio