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Articles / 2010

CMH set to break ground on new building in November
Work also planned in Ojai, Oxnard

The Ventura County Star
Thursday, 05/06/2010
By Kim Gregory

Groundbreaking on Community Memorial Hospital’s new $320 million building is scheduled for November, about a month after the hospital’s new cancer center is set to be completed.

The news came during the Community Memorial Health System’s 2010 State of the Hospital Address on Thursday evening at Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura.

Gary Wilde, CEO and president of CMHS, spoke to an audience of about 70 hospital workers and members of the public.

Wilde also spoke about plans to remodel Ojai Valley Community Hospital and the Centers for Family Health in Oxnard.

The new, six-story hospital will meet seismic demands and have 252 private rooms.

“Most rooms will overlook Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands,” he said.

The new hospital will also have “healing gardens” with roses, waterfalls and other greenery. One of the largest gardens will be walled off to keep out traffic noise.

“It may sound all warm and fuzzy, but it’s more than that,” Wilde said, adding that the gardens will offer a place for patients to find peace and help with the healing process.

The private rooms in the cardiac unit will also be equipped so that family members can stay overnight — another aspect the CMH staff believes will help patients heal.

The new hospital will take about 3 1/2 years to build, he said. Most of the money will come from a loan based on tax-exempt bonds, but CMH still needs private donations.

The $7.5 million cancer center, which is scheduled to be completed in October, is 23,317 square feet and will include facilities that offer radiation and oncology services as well as a cancer resource center.

It still has to undergo a design review, but Ojai Valley Hospital is also scheduled for a face-lift, Wilde said.

“Currently it looks boxy, and it looks old,” he said.

Members of two local unions asked Wilde if local contractors would be used for the projects.

“Out of about 200 members, we got 20, 30 guys out of work,” Marcelo Crespi, a representative of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local No. 4, said after the meeting.

Wilde said he couldn’t guarantee it, but he would urge the bigger contractors to hire local workers.

Wilde said there are also plans to remodel the Centers for Family Health building in Oxnard. The facility served 230,000 patients in 2009, he said. Of those, about 40 percent were indigent or on Medi-Cal.

To help finance the remodeling project, Wilde said, CMHS plans to apply for LEED certification, which recognizes green building. Construction projects certified by the nonprofit agency can get financial assistance.

Wilde also detailed points of pride for the health system over the past year, including the high volume of cardiovascular and Orthopaedic care, several awards, free preventive care programs and the fact the hospital is operating in the black.

The community-owned, nonprofit hospital reported assets of $240 million, coming in with 3.6 percent more revenue than it cost to operate the hospitals and healthcare centers.

Bad debt was still higher than usual, he said, because of the recession, accounting for about 4 percent of the hospital’s total expenses.