By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor
Ground is scheduled to break in February on the new $56 million Tehachapi Hospital in Tehachapi, Calif. Bernards and Colombo Construction Company Inc., acting in a joint venture partnership, will provide the Tehachapi Health Care District with construction management services for the approximately 79,000-square-foot project.
The replacement facility will sit just two miles from the current 17,000-square-foot Tehachapi Hospital, located roughly 40 miles southeast of Bakersfield and 40 miles northwest of Edwards Air Force Base. Demand for services–the healthcare center is the only hospital within a 50-mile radius–is one of the factors that spurred the development endeavor.
“Despite being a very small hospital, Tehachapi serves a large portion of South and Southeast Kern County, including areas that lie outside our District’s geographical boundaries,” Alan J. Burgess, CEO of Tehachapi Hospital told Commercial Property Executive.
Like the existing location, the new Tehachapi Hospital will be a 25-bed, critical access hospital, but it will also feature space for a few additional services, including surgery, obstetrics and ICU.
The escalating need for larger accommodations is not the only reason that the Tehachapi Health Care District is building anew. The current facility, which was constructed in 1956 following the destruction of the original hospital by the 1952 Tehachapi earthquake, falls short of meeting the California Seismic Safety Standards for a critical access hospital.
The pervasiveness of aged hospitals that fall beyond today’s standards is a mounting problem. “One of the greatest challenges facing hospitals and healthcare systems is the cracking, eroding infrastructure prevalent in so many older hospitals,” according to a report by commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
The current Tehachapi location, however, will continue to serve a purpose. “Upon completion of the new hospital, the existing facility will be used as an outpatient medical center, with a minimum of cosmetic improvements,” Burgess said.
Projects like the one Bernards and Colombo are now undertaking will only rise in number in the U.S. “Throughout last year, hospitals and systems went through the process of developing real estate strategies to help position themselves for the future,” Shawn Janus, a managing director with JLL, said in a prepared statement. “This should translate into new real estate projects on the development front. RFP/RFQ activity has been increasing and we see this as a growing trend in 2013.”
The new, state-of-the-art Tehachapi Hospital is on schedule to open its doors in 2015.