2017-06-16 / Health & Wellness

New hospital slated for completion this year

$275M project to feature state-of-the-art technology
By Jessica Waite
Special to the Acorn


NEARLY DONE—The new $275-million Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura will feature 250 private rooms. It replaces the hospital built in 1962 and will meet the state’s earthquake safety requirements. 
Courtesy of Community Memorial Health System NEARLY DONE—The new $275-million Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura will feature 250 private rooms. It replaces the hospital built in 1962 and will meet the state’s earthquake safety requirements. Courtesy of Community Memorial Health System Construction on the new Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, nearly six years in the making, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The $275-million project is “close to 90 percent done,” said Adam Thunell, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Community Memorial Health System. “We’re actually on the last lap of finishing up all of the interior components. Right now, all of the operating room equipment is being brought in.”

CMHS, which includes Ojai Valley Community Hospital and 12 Centers for Family Health in the West County, broke ground on the 250-room hospital in September 2011 to meet state-mandated seismic safety requirements prompted by the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

At the time, the hospital was scheduled to open by 2015, but Michael Ellingson, vice president of marketing and development for CMHS, said in an email that the initial construction timeline was, “in hindsight, a little too aggressive.”

“The general contractor was anticipating a 3½-year project. In retrospect, experts in the construction field have informed us that a project of this size and complexity is probably more of a five- to six-year build,” Ellingson said.

He cited delays in acquiring materials and subcontractors as reasons the hospital has taken longer than expected to be built. He also said the improved economy has led to other major construction projects in the area, resulting in a shortage of workers.

“The construction business has recovered from the recession, and there are many projects underway competing for construction labor,” he said. “It has become a daily challenge for the general contractor and subcontractors to secure the necessary workers on a consistent basis.”

Ellingson said that though the hospital has taken longer to build than originally planned, the “cost of the project has not increased, and the quality of the project has not been compromised.”

Like many in the state, the current 242-bed hospital—built in 1962—doesn’t meet the more stringent earthquake safety standards.

“It has served us well, but it is time to build a new hospital,” Ellingson said, adding that countless changes in medical technology also made it necessary to build the new 325,000-squarefoot facility.

Administrators are hopeful that a state-of-the-art hospital will entice new doctors to come to Ventura County.

“We’ve got to attract the new generation of physicians that are going to come in and take the reins,” Ellingson said.

Thunell said the same is true for all types of medical professionals.

“It’s also for any of the clinicians practicing in this newer environment,” he said. “So, attracting the nurses and the pharmacists and the clinical lab scientists and all of the team members that comprise a healthcare experience.”

CMHS will work with General Electric Co. to make the hospital a “show site,” where doctors outside of the system can come to see the up-to-date equipment at work, including the cath lab, robotic surgery and electrophysiology equipment.

“Our partnership with GE is a huge point,” Ellingson said. “They’re going to come in and partner with us on all our imaging equipment and establish us as a West Coast show site, and that is a big deal because what that means is we’ll always have the latest, greatest equipment here for our community. That’s a real advantage for what we’re able to bring to the community.”

But more than just technological upgrades, Thunell said, one of the new hospital’s greatest features is that all patient rooms will be private.

“I think the biggest thing that patients and family members will appreciate is the move towards private rooms,” Thunell said.

The private rooms are a combination of what CMHS found to be the best features from hospitals across the United States. The room designs take advantage of new technology by freeing up space to allow for family, patients and caretakers to fit more comfortably in the room.

“The whole healing environment, beyond the high-tech piece, is really important as well,” Thunell said.

The exterior work on the hospital is finished, including landscaping, roads and a new five-story parking structure with 571 spaces.

Since the new hospital’s inception,

City of Ventura officials have touted the construction project as an economic boon for its midtown area.

Less than a half-mile to the east, the Ventura County Medical Center recently completed its north tower and hospital replacement wing project.

“The construction of a new Community Memorial Hospital, along with the county hospital addition, has always been seen by the City of Ventura as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the midtown Ventura area,” Ellingson said via email. “In regards to the impact on the economy, keeping this hospital located here in Ventura carries obvious economic impact, most notably the fact that we employ over 2,000 individuals in the area as well as the generated revenue and taxes that those individuals represent.”

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