Staff members at the landmark Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Panorama City are enmeshed in a 6-year, $100-million face lift and expansion project to modernize the facility and give its patients and staff a little elbow room.
The 10-story building is being remodeled, along with three buildings that the hospital bought across the street. As a result, the hospital's floor space will increase from 482,000 square feet to 732,000 square feet.
'Rebuilding a Hospital'
"We are in essence rebuilding a new hospital," said Nancy Nightingale, hospital administrator. "We will be totally different. You'll walk into the hospital, and you won't realize you're in the same building."
The extra space and upgrading, however, will reduce the number of patients the hospital can handle. The facility is following a trend in medical care in which more services are administered on an out-patient basis, officials said. Once the remodeling is completed, the facility will have an in-patient capacity of 220 instead of its current 273. Three- and 4-bed rooms will be eliminated and replaced by private and 2-bed rooms, officials said.
"We're giving people more room . . . and that makes for happy campers," said Dr. David Potyk, associate medical director. "We're reducing some of the hustle and bustle."
Indeed, a tour of recently completed sections of the remodeled facility show the contrast between new and old.
The hospital had not undergone a major remodeling since the building was completed in 1962. Wide, airy hallways in soft colors are
replacing stark corridors that often had been crowded with surplus equipment, officials said.
The hospital's distinctive twin towers will be covered with a skin of tinted glass as part of the remodeling.
"It will look like the Bonaventure" hotel in downtown Los Angeles when the project is finished, said Karen Large, a hospital spokeswoman.
But renovating a hospital full of patients is considerably more complicated than remodeling a den.
There have been frayed nerves on a few occasions since the project started 18 months ago. Workers have been remodeling the building three floors at a time.
Emergency battery-powered medical equipment is on hand during the construction, officials said. So far nothing has gone awry, they said.
In addition, Nightingale and other staff members have devised contingency plans to deal with any construction accidents.