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End in sight for NIH construction project

December 27, 2011

The new Main Building at Northern Inyo Hospital is looking more like the modern healthcare facility it is purported to be. The floors are finished, ceiling tile is going up and equipment is being installed. Patients should start filling the rooms by the summer of 2012. Photo by Mike Bodine

Construction of a new Main Building at Northern Inyo Hospital has gone from an idea and local bond measure, demolition and a hole in the ground, to a steel skeleton to a what looked like a large white present complete with red bow during the building’s interior construction to its current resemblance to a modern healthcare facility.
The multi-year effort has recently passed a major milestone – approval to start placing ceiling tiles on the first floor. Scott Hooker, project and property manager for NIH, said this approval is “a very big deal” as it means the jumble of wires, the many different ducts, heating and air conditioning systems, electrical work and wall stabilizers have been put in place and approved too.
It’s time to start filling the rooms with assigned fixtures, devices and equipment. And, the equipment is coming at a savings of nearly $1 million, according to John Halfen, hospital director.
The new facility is already having equipment installed and should start accepting patients in the summer of 2012, according to Hooker. The hospital entered into a contract with Turner Logistics, an off-shoot of Turner Construction, the lead contractor on the job, for the latest in technological gadgetry and other hospital equipment at a reduced cost. Turner Logistics will also train hospital staff on how to use the new machinery.
Hooker explained that some equipment is already being installed and some equipment from the old building relocated. Some of the gear is still being manufactured and will be installed when ready – such as exam lights, autoclaves boons and other equipment that hangs from the ceiling. He added the flooring is done as well.
NIH entered into a purchase agreement with Turner Logistics in 2007 for furnishings, furniture and equipment, or FFE. Hooker said Turner Logistics buys in bulk and has “big purchasing power” that has already saved the hospital money.
Pete Watercott, chair of the Northern Inyo County Local Hospital District Board, said the deal with Turner Logistics has amounted to a 40 percent savings in equipment costs.
“They’re educated buyers,” Watercott said of Turner Logistics.
Hooker said that per the contract, the equipment to be installed in the new building is to be the most up-to-date, technology-wise, as possible. Turner Logistics also warehouses the equipment before it is shipped and installed. Hooker said some of the equipment is just now showing up at Turner Logistics’ warehouse.
Due to the contractual stipulation that assures the latest equipment, Hooker said hospital equipment makers such as Phillips send updates on equipment and will even send personnel to the site to coordinate construction with equipment specifications.
A similar equipment purchasing agreement was made between NIH and General Electric for outfitting the new radiology department. Hooker said the equipment was purchased years before the equipment was installed. He said the radiology equipment that was installed was the most up-to-date and technologically advanced at the time of installation, not purchase.
Watercott explained that there is a tremendous amount of planning involved when constructing something like a hospital. He said the construction of the new building demanded the most detailed blueprints and plans to be sure each room or wall is properly outfitted. He said that no detail is overlooked, down to how many and where each screw in the wall will go. For example, Watercott explained, any object that is mounted into a wall, from an X-ray machine to a rubber glove dispenser, must be mounted into a steel plate before being put in the wall, per hospital building code standards.
The building should be outfitted by the spring of 2012. Hooker added the hospital will then first await a Certificate of Occupancy for staff and stock, under California Building Code‚ Title 24, followed by licensing from California Department of Public Health and Title 22 requirements.
Updates of the construction complete with the latest photos are available for viewing at nih.org.

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