PIH's coming tower to replace at-risk facilities
A new 6-story tower in the works at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital will replace some of the Whittier hospital's buildings most at risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake.
The tower - slated for opening late next year - will house the hospital's surgery department, as well as critical care beds and a new pharmacy, Dave Klinger, vice president of facilities and real estate for PIH.
The surgery department was originally located in the hospital's service corps building building - one of two building's at PIH rated "1" - the the lowest rating on the state's five-point scale of measuring how likely a hospital facility is to collapse in a major earthquake.
Part of the service corps building has already been torn down to make room for the new tower. The rest will be torn down when the new building is opened, Klinger said.
The other poor-rated building, the original patient tower built in 1957, has a 4.5 percent chance of collapsing in a major earthquake, state regulators have found.
Most acute care services have been removed from the building, though a respiratory hospital and same-day surgery beds remain there.
An engineer is evaluating how to retrofit the building and the hospital has received an extension for that work beyond the 2013 deadline, Klinger said.
Finding a new earthquake-ready home for the surgery department was largely the impetus behind the hospital's costly capital improvements, Klinger said.
"That was our basic emphasis for doing it," he said. "If some of the hospitals around us fail, we have to be able to take admissions in," he said.
The $210 million structure will also increase the hospital's capacity from 444 beds to 556 beds, Klinger said.
The hospital also opened the Shannon Tower in 2005, which also replaced some of the departments and services formerly housed in the poor-rated service corps building.
To finance the new towers and other improvements, PIH has had to issue more than $300 in bonds.