LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Hospital’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to place a $350 million bond measure on the November 2018 ballot that will give voters the power to build a new, state-of-the-art hospital. The new facility would include higher patient capacity, the latest technology, greater efficiency, and a larger emergency room to meet the healthcare needs of the region, officials announced Monday.
“For many years Antelope Valley Hospital has made as many changes as previously possible to our emergency room and hospital facilities, but we need to take bold action now to modernize our medical center and effectively provide more resources to our staff and patients. We must provide a safe patient-friendly environment where our world-class doctors, nurses and medical professionals can continue meeting healthcare needs right here in our community,” stated Antelope Valley Healthcare District Board Chair Kristina Hong, RN, NP. “Additionally, California’s earthquake safety requirements could force us to shut down a large portion of our patient care areas if we don’t upgrade our facilities. We must take steps now to improve upon what we have or build a brand new hospital, which will ensure we are here for the community for decades to come.”
In order to comply with California’s seismic safety standards, the hospital must undergo major renovations of its existing facility by 2030. Without these upgrades, which will cost more than $420 million, the hospital will likely be forced to close.
The measure before voters this November sets in motion the creation of a new updated Antelope Valley Hospital that will not only meet seismic standards but also offer an up-to-date medical center with a much larger emergency room. A successful bond measure gives hospital leadership access to additional funds to help cover the cost of a completely new state-of-the-art hospital.
The bond measure will appear on the Statewide General Election ballot on November 6, 2018.
Bond Measure FAQs
The hospital issued a list of commonly asked questions regarding the bond to better inform voters. Read it below:
What will the 2018 AV Hospital General Obligation Bond do?
The 2018 G.O. Bond provides $350 million for Antelope Valley Healthcare District to build a new hospital or upgrade existing facilities in order continue delivering essential healthcare services to the local community.
Why does AV Hospital need these funds?
In order to comply with California’s seismic safety standards, the hospital must undergo major renovations of its existing facility by 2030. Without these upgrades, which will cost more than $420 million, the hospital will likely be forced to close. A successful G.O. Bond designates $350 million to either renovate the current building to meet California’s earthquake safety standards or build an entirely new, state-of-the-art medical center. It is the first step in securing the support of hospital partners to ensure healthcare services in the Antelope Valley for decades to come.
What happens if the bond doesn’t pass?
Without the funds to either retrofit the existing building or build a new medical center, Antelope Valley Hospital would likely be forced to shut its doors by 2030. The hospital serves the entire Antelope Valley community of more than 500,000 residents, including Palmdale, Lancaster, Littlerock, Rosamond, Edwards and more. It is the area’s only hospital that offers a trauma center, inpatient mental health care, pediatric unit, neonatal intensive care unit, labor and delivery, and pediatric approved emergency department. Additionally, it is a safety-net hospital for patients with little or no ability to pay. Losing the hospital would impact the entire community.
How many beds will a new hospital have?
Current plans provide for a brand new 215- to 230-bed hospital in addition to the Women & Infants Pavilion, a separate 96-bed building on the hospital campus that opened in 2006. Together, the new hospital and the existing Women & Infants Pavilion would house up to 326 beds.
Since the current hospital is 420 beds, how is a 320-bed hospital big enough?
The size of a new hospital is based on actual patient data, community projections and affordability.
While AV Hospital is licensed for 420 beds, that quantity hasn’t been used in years. Currently, the average number of daily patients is approximately 175 (not including the Women & Infants Pavilion).
The Women & Infants Pavilion will remain in place, and a new facility would house 215-230 beds. The proposed bed count is based on a study conducted by world-class, independent experts who have said that this is sufficient to meet patient demand. The analysis takes into account the projected population growth of the Antelope Valley over the next 10-15 years as well as trends in healthcare that show significant movement of inpatient services to outpatient settings.
At the current average cost-per-bed of $3.4 million for new construction, a 215- to 230-bed hospital is what the community can afford at this time according to the market research and data that has been independently collected. There’s also room for growth in the future if it is needed.
How are the bonds repaid?
After the amount of funds are determined to be necessary and the interest rate for such bonds fixed, the bond holders will be repaid from the owners of real property within the District. The annual amount, once determined, will appear on the annual property tax bill for each property owner. The estimated cost is $25 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
While plans for the future are taking shape, what is being done to improve the emergency department in the meantime?
Innovations are currently underway at AV Hospital to mitigate overcrowding, decrease wait times and improve the patient experience in the Emergency Room. These include:
Opening an “Express Admission Unit” for patients who are awaiting admission to the hospital.
Establishing a designated psychiatric evaluation area.
Adding beds for patients who need to be monitored, but are not being admitted.
Creating a special waiting area for patients who have been discharged from inpatient care and are waiting to be picked up.
Over the years, some patients have experienced long wait times in the ER and have been told it was because “a bed wasn’t available.” How can voters be assured the number of beds in a new facility will be sufficient?
The reasons behind delays in getting admitted to a bed are varied and complicated. They range from bed availability in a specific unit to which a patient needs to be admitted to the length of time required to completely disinfect a room between patients to having the required number of nurses on duty at that moment.
A new facility with the latest technology and a much larger emergency department will be specifically designed to alleviate overcrowding and handle the demand.
Where would a new hospital be built?
Antelope Valley Healthcare District owns an expansive piece of land on which the hospital is currently located. A new hospital would be built on the west side of the campus between the Women & Infants Pavilion and the old Kmart shopping center.
What would happen to the existing building?
The hospital’s architects and other experts will perform a study to determine options for either repurposing the current facility or demolishing it.
[Information via news release from Antelope Valley Hospital.]