UCLA MEDICAL CENTER: Unveils Plans For $600M Hospital
The University of California-Los Angeles today will unveil plans for its new $600 million hospital designed by architect I.M. Pei. The centerpiece of the UCLA medical complex's $1.3 billion "face lift," the 525-bed hospital should be able to withstand future earthquakes of up to 8.4 and "accommodate just about any fathomable change in medicine in the next 100 years." The Los Angeles Times reports that each room transforms into an intensive care unit "without much ado" and if "surgeries fall off, the number of operating rooms can be reduced to make room for gene therapy or other developing technologies --without knocking down walls" (Marquis, 1/19). The plans also call for bedside computers to eliminate the need for paper charts, and each room will have window seats that convert to a bed so that family members can stay overnight. The new building combines the operations of UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital and Mattel Children's Hospital in a 10-story structure (UCLA release, 1/18).
Drawing On Deep Pockets
The $1.3 billion medical campus project includes building three replacement buildings for research and education, razing the existing hospital, "retrofitting other structures on the UCLA campus and making improvements at the Santa Monica hospital." Although the project received unanimous approval from the UC regents in November, some health care experts are wary of the price tag, citing the "struggles faced by teaching hospitals nationwide to meld cutting-edge research and treatment with essential cost-consciousness." The Federal Emergency Management Agency is kicking in $432 million for the project, $44 million comes from the state and $700 million will come from private sources. Although donors have already offered $120 million and the UC regents approved $300 million in bonds, the "university is banking not only on its ability to raise enough private funds for construction but to support the facilities' operations over the long term." Marc Roberts, a health policy expert at the Harvard University School of Public Health, remains skeptical, noting, "In the past, the strategic planning has been done on the 'field of dreams' principle: If you build it, they will come. In a highly competitive health care environment, it increasingly has been hard for very high-cost providers to convince people to come" (Los Angeles Times, 1/19).