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Howard Hospital Begins Construction on New Facility



Date: October 23, 2012

Contact: Rick Bockmann, CEO
Howard Memorial Hospital

Willits - After years of behind-the-scenes momentum, construction has finally begun on the new Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital facility. The unmistakable signs of progress and the rumble of machines can be observed on the 33-acre parcel south of East Hill Road.

The current 25-bed critical access hospital was originally built in 1928 by a generous donation from Charles Howard, owner of the famed racehorse Seabiscuit. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, California mandated stringent seismic codes for all medical facilities. Faced with the challenge of retrofitting the existing 84-year-old hospital, the Frank R. Howard Foundation and the hospital’s operating company, Adventist Health, began planning for a replacement hospital.

Following months of design collaboration between hospital department heads and the architectural design-build firm, drawings were submitted to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) in April, 2011. Thereafter, the project team continued to navigate the complexities inherent in designing and building a modern medical facility, enabling construction to begin on schedule this summer. “Over the past year, I have seen all the hard work and progress that was required just to get us to the point of breaking ground,” Rick Bockmann, CEO at Howard Memorial Hospital. “It is really satisfying to visit the site and observe signs of progress each day that will bring us closer to our goal of opening our new hospital in late 2014.”

Crews broke ground August 13, 2012 at the building site located at the corner of East Hill Road and Haehl Creek Drive at the south end of Willits. The two-story, 74,000 square foot hospital will be more than double the size of the current hospital. Construction of the replacement hospital is expected to take two years and be completed the summer of 2014, with occupancy shortly thereafter. Plans for the old hospital have not yet been announced.

Construction is being led by HBE, a design-built firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, which has built numerous hospitals in California. All major subcontractors, including excavation and site work, structural steel, steel reinforcing, concrete, HVAC, fire protection, electrical, plumbing and drywall are based in Northern California. Jay Lewis of HBE will oversee construction; he brings twenty years of supervisorial experience with commercial building projects. Howard Memorial Hospital will be his sixth hospital build. “I am so very pleased we could bring in subcontractors who are locally based in Northern California,” said Willits local, Amy Ford, project manager, serving on behalf of Howard Memorial Hospital. Even the steel is fabricated by Gayle Manufacturing in Woodland, CA.

Since construction began, the site has been cleared and graded. The building pad has been built up. Bio-retention ponds have been excavated. The storm drain has been installed. The footings have been excavated, rebar is being installed, and the first concrete pour was completed October 15th, before the rains arrived. Through the end of the year footing construction will continue, and crews will be installing the under-slab utilities. Structural steel is anticipated to be erected early next year. Construction will continue through winter, with provisions for the rainy season.