Local News

Tuesday, Jul 08 2014 01:18 PM

Concrete woes for hospital project

A contractor's dismissal by the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District earlier in June revealed that the new Tehachapi Hospital's open date is not entirely concrete.

That's the message that Evan Rayner, outgoing interim chief executive officer for the healthcare district, and board president Mike Nixon relayed during the June 25 board meeting.

"This has modified the construction schedule," said Rayner.

The new hospital facility was expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2016. With the termination of the concrete contractor, Rayner said the date has changed to June 2016 at the earliest.

A special meeting will need to held to approve a new contractor, according to the project manager report regarding the new hospital. With the delay, the foundation's completion would be pushed back to fourth quarter of 2014, and exterior work completed in the second quarter of 2015.

On June 26, Rayner said that the contract had been terminated for convenience.

"We found some errors in some of the construction," Rayner said. "Some of the concrete was not being placed or poured according to code."

He declined to offer more information, citing legal issues.

It's not the first sign of concrete trouble for the new hospital. Back in February, project manager Stacy Pray had reported that 3,000 square feet of concrete had to be smashed up and replaced after it was discovered to have improperly cured.

According to the project management report approved at the June 25 board meeting, the quality of the concrete "has been exacerbated by the lack of a proposed schedule" from the contractor, Lewis C. Nelson (LCN), "on how they planned to make-up their lost time and continue to complete the project."

The project manager report also notes that LCN had been given a notice to demobilize on May 5, and move off site by May 21. On June 9, a bid notice was issued for all remaining concrete work at the hospital site.

Rayner said it would push the timeline for the estimated $86 million hospital back to the June 2016 date. He added there may be wiggle room through the hospital construction costs.

"We continue to and expect to complete the hospital and are pursuing alternative financing options such our own financing, philanthropy, and outside financing," Rayner said.

One such example might be a U.S. Department of Agriculture direct loan, Rayner said.

He said some options wouldn't be seen until at least after the hospital completed its financial audit.

"We have four or five lenders we are talking to that we believe will enable us to complete the project," Rayner said.

It's been estimated the healthcare district still needs $18 million to complete the new hospital, beyond the $65 million in bonds previously authorized by voters and various donations. Rayner said the deficit can be solved with creative financing to pare down the costs.

Possible impacts on other contractors because of the delay have to be worked with, he said.

"That is something we will have to work with legal on and that has not been sized yet," Rayner said.

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