Town hall meetings are planned as hospital considers its future

By ALLISON GATLIN Valley Press Staff Writer Aug 30, 2019

LANCASTER — Residents interested in learning about the future of Antelope Valley Hospital, including plans for a new facility, are invited to a series of town hall meetings over the next two months.

Free and open to the public, the meetings will feature presentations by CEO Edward Mirzabegian and senior hospital officials as well as a period for questions from the audience. Each meeting is expected to last about 90 minutes.

The first meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Community Resource Center, 44151 15th St. West in Lancaster.

It will be followed by a pair of meetings at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1308 West Rancho Vista Blvd. (Ave. P) in Palmdale.

The third town hall will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Eastside High School, 3200 East Ave. J-8 in Lancaster, followed by the final gathering at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Quartz Hill High School, 6040 West Ave. L.

The town halls will help lay out plans as the hospital looks to expand services to meet a growing community need with a modern facility and meet state earthquake safety requirements.

Those seismic standards, which the current facility does not meet, are driving the push for a new facility within the next six years to meet the state’s deadline.

The hospital also faces physical constraints at the campus where it opened in 1955.

“This community deserves the best possible healthcare in the best possible setting,” Mirzabegian said in announcing the town hall meetings. “We not only want to be transparent about our plans to enhance healthcare in the valley, but we are interested in the ideas and concerns of the community, which is why we are inviting people to our town halls.”

The Antelope Valley Healthcare District Board of Directors, which governs the hospital, agreed on May 29 to pay RBB Architects, Inc. $9 million to cover the initial architectural, structural and environmental planning to construct a new medical facility by the state’s 2025 deadline.

“After 2025, if we don’t rebuild, kiss this place goodbye,” Mirzabegian said at the time.

The new facility would be built on land the District already owns adjacent and to the west of the current hospital buildings at Avenue J and 15th Street West.

The contract documents from RBB state that the new 370-bed facility carries an estimated $400 million price tag, which will be provided either through a public bond measure or private sources or a combination of both, officials said.

 

Even if the district decided to retrofit the old facility, only about half is suitable for such improvements, leaving an inadequate hospital at half its current size. The wings built in 1965 cannot be retrofitted, Mirzabegian said.

In November, the District asked voters to approve a $350 million bond measure for seismic retrofitting or a new facility. That measure failed to secure the 66.6% of the vote to pass, with 63.9% voting to approve it.

The election also came at a time of turmoil for the District and hospital, as then-CEO Michael Wall and then-Chief Financial Officer Colette Nichols were on paid administrative leave pending investigation into unspecified improprieties. Both later resigned.