Ventura County Medical Center replacement wing project

The Ventura County Medical Center’s use of a design/build contract for the construction of a replacement wing to its existing hospital in Ventura, Calif., will allow the facility to be built in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. 

“Typically in healthcare, there’s a gap between the development of the designs and drawings and the actual construction, which leads to hospitals being completed at an additional cost to close that gap,” says Rebekah Gladson, president of RG Group Global, the program/construction manager representing the medical center on the $300 million project. “The design/build approach allows the owner to achieve the highest value for what they’re building, and offers the lowest cost growth and shortest overall schedule. We have a completely integrated team, which allow us to have a very high-performing and lean process.”

General contractor Clark Construction started site work in 2013 on the four-story, 242,000-square-foot hospital wing, which will replace a portion of the building completed in the 1950s. The project will bring the medical center up to state seismic requirements. The architect is HOK Architects. The $300 million project is anticipated for a 2017 completion. 

The contractor, owner’s representative, architect and other important project team members all have personnel based in a former clinic building on the medical center’s campus that is serving as a project headquarters. Project communication is also enhanced through the use of BIM. “We are fully co-located and are right down the hall from one another,” Gladson says. “We frequently communicate as we pass each other in the halls, in addition to having standard weekly meetings.” 

The project team’s being co-located on the medical center’s campus also opens up the line of communication with hospital staff and administration, which is especially important, as work is taking place around a fully operational facility. 

“We’re tying into existing walls and drilling holes in the ground while patients are being cared for,” she adds. “It’s important for us to have a safety and awareness program tailored not just to construction but patients, physicians and staff.”

A new emergency department entrance and main hospital entrance were built to accommodate patients and the public during construction. Project staff are also notified when trauma patients are flown in by helicopter, so they can move cranes and other equipment. Ventura County Medical Center is designated as a Level 2 trauma center, and is one of only two of its kind in the county.

Gladson credits the medical center’s administration for taking a progressive approach to the construction of the new facility. “The medical center has a lot of confidence that the design/build process will bring them the most value,” she says.

Strong Foundations

The new emergency department and main entrances were built as part of the extensive site work needed before the foundation of the new wing could be placed. Other site work includes utility and sewer relocation.

Clark Construction started placing the building’s foundation in June. Two large cranes – a large crawler crane with an attached drill rig and a support crane – began placing 550 auger pressure grouted piles, which will be tested by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The piles will be driven up to 140 feet deep, as the soil is highly collapsible, Gladson says. Foundation work will continue through August.

The new medical center wing will feature a steel frame with an exterior consisting mainly of precast concrete panels and glass. The glass exterior is intended to maximize daylight harvesting, which will allow the building to achieve LEED Silver for Healthcare certification.

Other green-oriented features include skylights, green roofs, exterior canopies and screens and a chilled water system. The chilled water system is projected to reduce the amount of water needed in the hospital’s sterile processing area by roughly 90 percent, as the water it produces will be able to more efficiently cool the machines used to clean and sterilize equipment. 

The wing will also feature LED lighting, according to the medical center. “Hospitals are high consumers of energy because they are 24/7 facilities,” Gladson says. “The county made a commitment to have this level of environmental consciousness and sustainability on this project because it’s the responsible action to take.”

The new four-story hospital wing will house 120 of the hospital’s total 180 beds. The wing will also include six operating rooms including a hybrid OR and two interventional suites as well as diagnostic and imaging, emergency, intensive care and telemetry, pediatric and obstetrics and central supply departments. Departments are being designed with medical equipment already in mind, as equipment suppliers are already involved in the design process.

Experienced Partners

As the construction manager and owner representative on the project, RG Group’s role encompasses a number of duties, including contract and design management, permitting and construction administration. Gladson, a former vice chancellor and campus architect for the University of California Irvine, founded the company in 2008 to provide consultation services to the public healthcare and university sector. “We specialize in the public infrastructure that supports our society,” she says.

Gladson’s experience includes managing more than $4.9 billion in projects including the construction of the University of California’s Irvine Medical Center. RG Group’s team has collectively overseen the construction of more than 30 hospital projects, she adds.

Chicago-based Clark Construction has experience in the healthcare, government and other sectors. ”For over a century, we have been transforming the ideas and visions of our clients into award-winning projects,” the company says. “We build with the intention of exceeding our clients’ expectations and deliver finished products that stand the test of time.“ 

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