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Board approves additional $29 million for work at MLK hospital

Artist rendering of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. (28740)
Artist rendering of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. Credit: HMC Architects

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Board of Supervisors today approved another $29 million for unanticipated work at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, which is set to be completed in less than three months.

“This project is 92 percent (complete),” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said of the inpatient tower and related buildings on 120th Street in unincorporated Willowbrook. “We’ve come a long way.”

With the increase, the budget for the 120-bed hospital facility totals $281 million.

The project involves renovating a portion of the old Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center, which was closed in 2007 after years of mismanagement and health and safety violations that resulted in patient deaths.

Construction workers discovered deteriorated sewer lines, electrical conduits not up to current code, utilities that didn’t meet seismic standards and other problems that were not visible when contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Co. developed its bid, resulting in higher costs, according to Department of Public Works Director Gail Farber.

County officials have signed 90-plus construction change orders to date, Farber told the board.

Farber said that even with the higher budget, the project’s construction cost amounts to about $679 per square foot, below what she said was the industry standard of $700 to $900 per square foot for other acute care hospitals.

The inpatient tower and emergency room is scheduled to be “substantially complete” by Oct. 31.

“New construction of this hospital would have been a much more expensive proposition,” Ridley-Thomas said.