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French Hospital Has 125th Birthday : Expansion Planned for Institution in Chinatown

September 22, 1985|EVELYN De WOLFE

Coinciding with the French Hospital's cake-cutting ceremony on its 125th anniversary today at the original site in Chinatown, will be the announcement of a proposed $30-million construction project by Donald W. Carrico, hopital president and chief executive officer.

The new additions will include a two-story wing and more parking space.

There was a time when French settlers in Los Angeles could take advantage of a full range of medical services at French Hospital for a mere $1 per month, plus 50 cents for each visit to the doctor.

The nonprofit facility was started in 1860 by a fraternal organization, La Societe Francaise de Bienfaisance Mutuelle de Los Angeles, but most of the French residents in the vicinity of College and Hills streets have long since moved away.

Today, immigrants continue to seek health care at the second oldest hospital in Los Angeles that is only 10 years younger than the city itself and the oldest hospital operating continuously from one site.

Users of the medical facility are now predominantly the Chinese, Vietnamese and Hispanic population living within a six-mile radius in including in Chinatown, Echo Park, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, Silver Lake, Alhambra and Monterey Park.

"Our expansion plan has been in the planning stages for the past five or six years in response to the pressing need to accommodate a growing population in the areas we serve," Carrico said. "Looking down the road, perhaps in the next seven to 10 years, we would like to include a skilled nursing facility because people are living so much longer."

The two-phase master plan, was developed by Widom/Wein & Partners, Los Angeles, and Interarc, the firm's interior design division. Phase 1 involves the completion of a multilevel parking structure and addition of a two-story wing to the existing two-story, full-service community hospital at 531 W. College St. Ground breaking isscheduled for the fall of 1987.

The new eight-level-plus-basement parking structure will improve site circulation and provide easy access to necessary service areas, explained George Wein, a principal of the architectural firm.

"The main entrance to the new hospital will be relocated to front Yale Street and will reflect a high-tech look, a blending of aluminum and glass and a feeling of light and airiness," he added.

"We also plan to have a convenient pickup/drop-off area for patients and visitors, and special attention has been paid to the design of the emergency and obstetrics and gynecology departments, two priority areas of the program, as well as diagnostic services." The hospital delivers about 100 babies a month.

Phase 2, to be implemented in the early 1990s, will involve the completion of an eight-level tower structure with an oversized basement to replace the existing hospital facility. It will house the remaining departments and provide room for future growth.

Once completed, about one-third of the site will be recaptured, providing some open areas and enough space to include a medical office building or a theme restaurant.

The nonprofit, 155-bed facility provides acute care to a population of varied ethnic backgrounds, and its medical staff and employees collectively speak 17 languages and 20 dialects. There are 300 physicians representing 29 medical specialties, of which obstetrics is a major department.

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