Lawsuits, Failed Inspections Push Back Opening Date of UCLA-Westwood Hospital
The new $677.7 million hospital project on the University of California-Los Angeles' Westwood campus likely will be completed later this year or next year, much later than the initial plan to have the project finished five months ago, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Once completed, the hospital will replace UCLA's existing medical center on the Westwood campus, which was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Much of the new hospital's funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Construction on the hospital has been underway since fall 1999 but has been delayed because the facility has failed to meet state standards. Hospital inspectors between May 2004 and last month found several areas in which the facility does not comply with approved designs and building codes.
Further, one subcontractor has filed a lawsuit against UCLA, claiming the hospital owes it nearly $40 million in unpaid fees. Other contractors say that some decisions made by UCLA, including changes to equipment, have affected construction and the project's budget, the Times reports.
Paul Coleman of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which regulates state hospital construction, said, "They're at the stage in the construction where they should have a pretty good idea of what it takes to build this building and not be struggling along." The office last summer halted some work on the hospital, after finding UCLA did not receive proper approval for its plans.
UCLA officials say they are working to eliminate the areas that do not meet building codes and to increase the number of construction workers, the Times reports.
Peter Blackman, UCLA's administrative vice chancellor, said, "We need to get this project finished in a timely fashion. That's my number one objective at this point." He added, "Our point of view from Day One was that it has to be done right, and it has to be done in a way that it has the most contemporary technology so the doctors can do their jobs" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/7).