New Northern Inyo Hospital expected to be open for business by first quarter of next year
On Wednesday’s media tour of the new 55,000-square foot Northern Inyo Hospital (NIH) facility currently under construction, it occurred to me that the mountain views from the patient rooms were so spectacular that perhaps NIH could rent out its extra beds if it weren’t full.
When I facetiously mentioned the idea to Hospital C.E.O. John Halfen in a telephone interview Thursday, he replied, “Yeah, sure. For $4,000 a night.”
So, yes, even though the new hospital facility will be gorgeous, you may not wish to spend a lot of time there.
The $62 million project is being built by Turner Construction and overseen jointly by Turner Project Executive Richard Kasa and NIH Property Manager Scott Hooker.
Kasa said hospital projects have typical 24 to 30 month building cycles and NIH will be no different, taking a shade over two years to construct from start-to-finish.
When asked what the most challenging aspect of the project has been, Hooker referenced the foundation.
As Halfen said Thursday, the original foundation was supposed to cost a little more than $1 million. The state, citing seismic concerns, forced NIH to redraw plans Among the changes was a requirement to place 216 columns at a depth of 50 feet in the ground. This increased the cost of the foundation by some $3 million.
On the bright side, the hospital is now engineered to withstand a magnitude 8.8 earthquake.
Overall, Halfen said the overall project cost is perhaps 2% more than originally budgeted.
Of the $62 million, taxpayers are funding $29.5 million. The remainder is being financed by past and future hospital operations.
Halfen said there have been almost no community complaints, and a great deal of cooperation from both the City of Bishop and Inyo County. Kasa readily agreed. “Healthcare is my thing. This is the sixth hospital I’ve done in California. I love appreciative clients.”
“This will be the most state-of-the-art facility between L.A. and Reno,” he added.
When showing one of the three spacious surgical suites, Kasa said that as a general rule, “the bigger the better” for an O.R. (operating room).
“There will be things in here [medical machines] that haven’t even been invented yet,” he said, so it’s important to set aside space for that.
What will happen to the existing hospital?
Angie Aukee, NIH Director of Community Development, Marketing and Grant Writing, said the old building will be de-licensed and then remodeled as office space, which will allow the hospital to remove the modular structures it has been using on a temporary basis.
The new facility will be licensed for 25 rooms including 12 patient rooms.
And what is the lifespan of a new hospital? Kasa said 50 years as a general rule, although he noted that Turner recently replaced an 80-year old facility in La Honda.