Rancho hospital to undergo $418 million renovation

DOWNEY – Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center is preparing to undergo a major renovation and campus beautification project. The $418 million project will include the construction of a new Wellness and Aquatic Therapy Center, outpatient facilities and inpatient expansion to improve seismic safety. Many of the campus’s older buildings will also be demolished, however the hospital’s historic Harriman Building will be refurbished and protected during the process.

The project will be separated into two phases of construction.

The first phase is centered on the construction of the Wellness and Aquatic Therapy Center. Starting last month and extending through July, the hospital will first see the demolition of the 700 Building, CART, and the Model Home and Building Threshold.

Construction will begin in August, and will continue through August of next year. It will include an addition to the parking garage, a warehouse, and a campus entry plaza, as well as the construction of the new wellness center. After completion there will be more demolition through November. Phase one will then conclude over the next several years as the outpatient building is constructed and the existing Jacquelin Perry Institute (JPI) is added to and renovated, ending in October 2018.

Phase two will begin immediately after phase one’s completion. It will include renovations to the research and administration buildings, general campus beautification and site improvements, and demolition of existing buildings. Phase two is slated to extend from November 2018 to December 2020.

Construction boundaries have been set north of Imperial Highway, east of Old River School Road, south of Quill Drive and west of Rives Avenue; the hospital’s current location. Rancho officials have planned the project to be as undisruptive as possible for the community, including limiting construction hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Rancho is also working with the contractor’s to avoid impacting day-to-day operations during the renovation.

Rancho hosted a neighborhood meeting on March 26 for its immediate neighbors. The meeting included a brief presentation and Q&A. Rancho staff members were also on hand to answer any questions regarding the renovation.

Also in attendance was Andrea Avila, a field deputy for Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe, who briefly spoke during the presentation on the supervisor’s behalf.

“It is going to be a very difficult time ahead,” said Avila. “There’s gunna be some changes coming along for the staff, our patients and the community, but in the end it’s going to be a great project. We know we change a lot of lives now but we can just imagine for generations to come what Rancho is going to stand for and what they’re going to represent.”

This will be the first major construction on campus since the construction of the JPI building in 1996. Rancho COO Benjamin Ovando Sr., MBA, said that the renovation is desperately needed, saying that care and equipment have changed. Ovando said that it has been challenging to operate in the current buildings which were built in the 1950’s and 60’s.

“We’ll be able to provide a lot more efficient and safer care to the patients that we serve,” he said.

Another presentation aimed towards the community at large is scheduled for April 22 at Councilman Sean Ashton’s town hall meeting at the Barbara J. Riley Community & Senior Center.

Community members are encouraged to direct questions and concerns to the 24/7 Rancho Rising 2020 Hotline at (562) 219-4771.