Monday, July 16 , 2018, 12:24 pm | Fair 72º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Despite Project Challenges, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital On Track for 2018 Completion

Construction slips 30 days behind schedule with emergence of challenges of asbestos, concrete recycling and how to protect a Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is looking to build a new patient pavilion wing as part of its $700 million rebuilding to meet state earthquake standards. Cottage Health System officials are attempting to save a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at the site Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is looking to build a new patient pavilion wing as part of its $700 million rebuilding to meet state earthquake standards. Cottage Health System officials are attempting to save a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at the site (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The rebuilding of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is about 30 days behind schedule, but should be complete by 2018.

The hospital is in the fifth of eight phases of a $700 million rebuilding of its multiblock facility at 400 W. Pueblo St. Phase 6 will consist of building a third patient care pavilion and a diagnostic and treatment pavilion.

“We are heading to the finish line, finally,” said Ron Biscaro, vice president of project management for the Cottage Health System.

Phase 5 consisted of demolition of the hospital’s central wing to make way a for new patient pavilion and emergency underground water storage tanks. Phase 5 is 95 percent complete and will be finished by November, Biscaro said.

Cottage Health System officials gave an annual update on the project at last week’s Planning Commission meeting. Cottage also has encountered some issues in its latest phase of rebuilding, including trees, concrete recycling and asbestos.

The nonprofit health-care provider is rebuilding the hospital to comply with a California law requiring that all hospitals be retrofitted or rebuilt to “withstand a 7.0 earthquake and still be functional,” Biscaro said. 

“Unless we have an 8.0 or 9 earthquake, I think these buildings will be fine,”​ he added.

Cottage also is attempting to save a landmark Moreton Bay Fig Tree on a corner of property, facing Pueblo Street. Although all of the buildings around it have been demolished, the tree still stands.

“We have taken great pains to make sure that it thrives,”​ Biscaro said.

Planning Commissioner Sheila Lodge wanted to know if the tree will have more space once the new buildings are completed.

“The tree has grown away from the building,” she said. “Is the footprint going to be the same for the new part, or will there be a little more space for the tree?”

Biscaro said the tree’s roots extend far underneath the site.

“Regardless of whatever we do, there will still be root issues for many, many years,”​ he said. “It’s a pretty healthy tree.”

To avoid possibly hitting the tree’s roots, Cottage is putting in a basement on the other side of the building.

“It’s costing us a lot more to protect it than for the tree itself, but we have great respect for it,”​ Biscaro said. 

Cottage has recycled about 93 percent of its concrete, but none of it has been salvaged locally.

“All of the concrete that has been recycled has gone to Santa Paula, in the Ventura County area,”​ Biscaro said. “We couldn’t find a recycling place here ... with the volume we had.”​

He said it has cost the hospital about a “half-million-dollar premium to make sure that we sent the concrete down and brought it back.”​

Cottage also encountered asbestos in the removal of the Phase 5 buildings. Many of the demolished structures were built in the 1960s, ’​70s and ’​80s. 

The asbestos removal cost about $1 million, said Biscaro, who added that the elimination process is “always more than expected.”​

Addison Thompson, chairman of the Planning Commission, praised hospital officials.

“It’s a huge, huge undertaking,” he noted. “To keep a hospital functioning while you are doing this, and not to mention the impact around the neighbors, ... a reconstruction project of this magnitude is amazing.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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