Jan. 3, 2013
Kit Stolz, OVN correspondent
Wednesday night , the city’s Planning Commission applauded the Ojai Valley Community Hospital’s plans to extensively upgrade its entrance.
The commission took no action on the proposal, but will instead vote on the plans at a public hearing in late February or early March, said Ojai Planning Commissioner Troy Becker.
“I heard nothing but compliments on the design elements,” he said Thursday morning. “Everyone’s excited to have the hospital bring it in for design review.”
The entrance upgrades are part of the second phase of renovations to the 1960-built hospital and will include a new fountain, courtyard, domed entry tower and clay tile roof, all in the Spanish Colonial Revival style seen commonly in Ojai.
The building’s façade will be redone and accented with wrought iron and hand-glazed tiles, according to the hospital.
“We have the ambitious goal of getting it approved in the next six to seven months, so we can get the work completed this year,” said Haady Lashkari, the hospital’s chief administrative officer. “We’re really excited about this project, because we think it’s more reflective of the community in terms of the finish and look than what the hospital has now.”
The hospital has budgeted about $1.5 million for the entrance upgrades, he said.
“Community Memorial Health System, which owns the hospital, has begun raising money to cover some of the costs of the three-phase renovation, and fundraising will continue this year,” said Michael Ellingson, vice president of marketing and development.
The first phase of the hospital’s renovations, which cost about $1.3 million, involved securing equipment to meet new state earthquake standards. Concurrent with that work, the hospital installed a new roof and upgraded the air conditioning and heating units.
The project also included a remodel of the hospital’s four-bed Intensive Care Unit, adding new flooring and improving nurses’ work stations.
The first phase, which was completed last month, should allow the hospital to meet seismic codes through 2030, according to Community Memorial Health System.
The last phase of the project will involve a renovation or replacement of the hospital’s 66-bed skilled-nursing facility, located behind the main hospital. Hospital officials are trying to decide how best to improve the Continuing Care Center, which provides inpatient programs and therapy on a short- and long-term basis.
“We’re going through the evaluation process to see what makes the most sense for our community and our community’s needs,” Lashkari said. “We’re looking at the potential size of the replacement and the cost.”
The Ojai hospital’s renovations are part of the Health System’s master plan, which includes the construction of a new building for Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.
The health system has a goal of raising $25 million for the projects and has garnered $11 million so far, Ellingson said. The Health System expects to launch a fundraising campaign in Ojai later this year, he said.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Planning Commission appointed Marleen Luckman as its new chairwoman and Laurence Nicklin as vice chairman; they will serve through 2013.