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2 new hospitals to open in North County

Both facilities are medically, environmentally innovative

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Two new North County hospitals now under construction are using sustainable building practices and employing green technologies. When complete, both will provide innovative health care while reducing their carbon footprint.

The first hospital to be built in North County in more than 30 years, Palomar Pomerado Health’s Palomar Medical Center West (PMCW) is one of the largest hospital projects currently under construction in the country, according to hospital officials.

Designed by CO Architects and built by DPR Construction, PMCW broke ground in December 2007. Both the 740,000-square-foot hospital and the 33,000-square-foot central utility plant include shelled areas to allow for future expansion and technological advances.

According to Wendy Cohen, Palomar Pomerado health director of facilities construction, the $956 million project is 75 percent complete. The hospital building is primarily in the finishing and commissioning phase.

A rendering of Palomar Pomerado Health's Palomar Medical Center West, the first hospital to be built in North County in more than 30 years. Photo courtesy of Palomar Pomerado Health

“Construction is scheduled for completion in spring of 2012 subject to OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) approval,” said Cohen. “Construction will be followed by a transformation phase which will include training, building activation and eventually licensing by the California Department of Public Health. We are anticipating that this will be in late summer of 2012.”

The hospital will open with 288 single-patient rooms expandable to 360 rooms when patient tower floors nine through 11 are built out. Each Wi-Fi enabled room has its own bath and family area.

Eco-friendly technologies include a 1.5-acre green roof over the two-story wing that houses surgical facilities and the emergency room. The roof is planted with drought tolerant species and is visible from patient rooms. Cohen said the garden roof is integrated into the building’s structural and mechanical performance to enhance energy efficiency by reducing the ground reflection of solar heat gain in the tower. The garden roof also features a storm water management system.
Multiple garden terraces on each floor of the patient tower are planted with mature trees, flowers and shrubs to provide access to nature, natural light and fresh air. Outdoor courtyards bring light into the emergency room and operating suites.

“The patient tower is oriented to maximize east-west exposure and to take maximum advantage of daylight,” said Cohen. “Garden terraces also provide an additional layer of solar protection.”

Sustainable building practices include diverting 3,539 tons of waste -- about 54 percent -- according to Cohen. More than 1,500 cubic yards of boulders unearthed from the existing fill are being used for landscaping, and more than 80,000 cubic yards of soil were processed and amended onsite for use as topsoil.

An image of the new Naval Hospital at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, set to open in 2014. Courtesy image.

“Because of onsite crushing operations, we were able to produce soil gradations suitable for use in roadways, landscapes and building backfill,” said Cohen.

At the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, a 500,000-square-foot multi-level hospital broke ground in December near the main gate. The design and construction contract was awarded to Clark Construction/McCarthy last September, and the joint venture is expected to employ between 700 and 1,000 construction workers daily. Clark/McCarthy anticipates more than 65 percent small business participation.

The new Naval Hospital will replace the current hospital, which was built in 1974 and focused on inpatient services consistent with the technologies used at that time. Hospital officials said today’s healthcare practices typically require a shorter inpatient stay with many surgical procedures performed in an outpatient or ambulatory setting. Built on a 70-acre site, the 54-bed replacement hospital will include inpatient medical facilities and ancillary departments, emergency, primary and specialty care clinics, operating rooms and support spaces. The site also includes a central utilities plant, a 1,500 space multi-level parking structure, surface parking and future site development.

The $394 million project is scheduled to be completed in January 2014 and operational later that year. It is the largest project awarded in the Department of the Navy funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The contract also contains two planned modifications and one option that increase the cost to $451 million. One modification is to purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment necessary to support the facility's function. The option is to build additional parking.

A second modification will purchase conservation bank credits, which are species-specific credits approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that developers can buy to compensate for a project’s impact on threatened or endangered species, or environmentally sensitive habitats.

According to Lt. Adam Christopher, assistant resident officer in charge of construction for the Naval Hospital, the environmental impact study raised a concern that building on the 50-acre site may impact coastal sage habitat.

“As we came into the site and looked at it, the habitat on-site was non-existent,” said Christopher. “Because it was in the EIS (environmental impact study) as a concern, we agreed to mitigate 25 acres of coastal sage habitat development in one of the land banks. Our intention is, in an effort to be good environmental stewards, to mitigate or offset any impact of this project.”

The hospital is projected to receive LEED Gold certification by reducing energy consumption during construction and throughout the facility’s operation. Features include exterior cladding that adds 30 percent insulating value, providing approximately 3 percent of electrical demand through photovoltaic cells, a green roof on sections of the hospital and the central utility plant, providing more than 30 percent of hot water through solar heat, and installation of energy-efficient mechanical systems.

The hospital supports a beneficiary population of 151,000 comprised of active duty military, retired military and their families, and employs a staff of approximately 2,100.


James is an Encinitas-based freelance writer.

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