When Adventist Health’s Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital was faced with the challenge of meeting looming seismic compliance requirements, a decision was made to rebuild.
“Given the hospital’s age and the number of additions, renovation didn’t make sense,” says John Gustin, corporate vice president of facilities management and construction for the entire Adventist portfolio, which consists of 20 hospitals in California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
Greening a Health System
Adventist Health is on a mission to outfit all its locations with sustainable technologies such as reflective roofing, photovoltaic panels, microturbine systems, and automated building controls. To do so, it looks at the basic needs of each individual site to determine what technology makes the most sense.
In Southern California, for example, where electricity rates are high, a microturbine system was installed at White Memorial Medical Center. The $3.2 million project has an expected five-year payback. In Hawaii, meanwhile, where electricity costs are difficult to manage due to there being just one supplier, Adventist Health is looking at installing photovoltaic panels. Moreover, across the health system, old mercury lights in parking structures will be replaced with LED lights, beginning in Southern California. “Like many health-care systems, we’re transitioning from a holding company to an operating entity, and with that we’re getting the opportunity to create standardization across our entire portfolio,” says John Gustin, corporate vice president of facilities management and construction.
The project in Willits, California, which got off the ground in 2011, consisted of the design and build of a 75,000-square-foot acute-care hospital with 21 regular medical beds and four intensive-care beds. That well exceeds the space of the old facility, which was just 30,000 square feet, and should meet the demands of the nearby community, which includes a retirement complex and, soon, a medical office building.
The building’s highly energy-efficient equipment is part of Adventist Health’s system-wide effort to reduce energy costs. Variable-frequency drives on motors that push chilled water around boiler systems regulate energy use, for example. And a building automation system manages interior temperature and humidity based on the ambient climate outside. “It’s a smart system that takes the human factor out,” says Gustin, who is also pleased that the hospital has the capability of adding ice storage—which can be used during the day to cool the building—if the capital is available at a later date.
Building such a technologically advanced facility was not without challenges, especially given the rigorous inspection process required to meet regulatory requirements. That, in part, prompted delays, putting Adventist Health in a difficult position. “We didn’t have the new hospital ready at the time [that] the old hospital no longer met seismic requirements that went into effect in December 2014,” says Gustin, who was previously vice president of facilities for the eleven facilities in the Florida Hospital system. “I didn’t think the California Department of Public Health would pull our license, but should we have had a seismic event, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would not have honored our invoicing from a recovery standpoint.”
The new hospital, which opened this past summer, was worth the wait, however. Consistent with the overall mission of Adventist Health to promote physical, mental, and spiritual healing, the new facility is clearly a healing environment. Patient rooms have views of the Northern Coast Mountains, and other healing places inside and outside the hospital give patients and family members a place to go, connect with nature, and relax. Even the staff is treated to this peaceful mood of the facility. “Walking through the surgery [ward] during construction, I noticed a lot of natural light streaming in through windows placed at high levels, which is wonderful for doctors and nurses trapped in an operating room for 12 hours at a time,” says Gustin, who also likes the soothing color palette and finishes.
Perhaps most notably, the hospital is closely connected to the close-knit community in which it operates. While the Howard Foundation owns the land and Adventist Health owns the hospital, after 50 years the hospital will revert to the community under a ground-lease and ownership model. In the meantime, members of the community are invited to eat at the hospital dining room, which will also operate as a restaurant and serve produce sourced from the Frank R. Howard Foundation Commonwealth Garden. “It will be a great space for the community to gather,” Gustin says.