Final portion of old Yuma hospital demolished

BY JOYCE LOBECK @YSJOYCELOBECK | Posted: Monday, September 22, 2014 5:22 pm

First whack

With Dr. Robet Cannell, interim chief medical officer at Yuma Regional Medical Center, at the controls of a hydraulic excavator, the final demolition project at the hospital campus gets under way Monday morning. Here Cannell starts tearing down one of the walls in the YRMC East Wing, the last remaining original structure of what was once known as Park View Hospital. It is the final demolition project, making room for what will be a new emergency department.

The best show in town Monday morning was the demolition of the remaining portion of the East Wing of Yuma Regional Medical Center – fondly remembered as Parkview Hospital by medical staff and community members who gathered to watch.

It was a nostalgic moment to see the old hospital structure built in 1958 being quickly reduced to a pile of rubble, said Dr. Robert Cannell, interim chief medical officer for YRMC.

“The better part of my practice was in that building … lots of long nights,” recalled Cannell, a pediatrician who joined the YRMC staff 45 years ago. “There was a lot of activity in that little space.”

But the demolition was also exciting, said Cannell, who took the controls of the big hydraulic excavator to make the first swipe of the machine’s massive jaws at the building.

The demolition of the East Wing will pave the way for construction of YRMC’s new, state-of-the-art Emergency Department.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” reflected Karen Hardy, director of critical care services. “There’s a lot of memories here, but we really need the new ED, believe me.”

The new Emergency Department will have 58,000 square feet of space, compared to the current ED’s 17,200 square feet. Bed capacity will increase from 37 beds to 72 and the structure will have the capacity to accommodate more than 100,000 visits a year, compared to 70,000 at this time.

The new ED was designed with the hospital’s 30- to 50-year plan in mind with the capability to add four floors and create a future patient tower if needed, noted Jeff Andews, president of the YRMC Operating Board. The new structure will also include an underground parking garage and two helipads.

Andrews, too, took a turn at the controls of the excavator. That was a fitting honor, given his participation on the board for the last six years that put him on the ground floor of the vision and planning that led to Monday’s activity.

“When I first interviewed for the board, we talked about the ED,” he said. “The first thing we had to do was find a good location. This one made the most sense for the future. Then we had to make way with dozens of projects. It’s been kind of like remodeling a house while still living in it.”

Those projects included finishing the final two floors of the patient tower, major changes to the Women and Children’s Center, construction of the new Administration Building, relocating a number of services and construction of the parking garage. At the same time, the Yuma Regional Cancer Center was built.

Now the pieces are in place to start work on the new Emergency Department. It will take about three weeks to clear the site, said a representative for McCarthy Building Companies, the general contractor for the project. Then excavation of the site and installation of big pillars can begin. The new ED is scheduled for completion in mid-2016.

“I feel like cheering,” Andrews said. “This will be such an improvement. The ED does a tremendous job with the space they have, but it’s crowded.”

As he spoke, a beaming Camie Overton, acting YRMC president and chief executive officer, also climbed into the cab of the excavator for a turn at the controls.

“I understand the tremendous sentiment for this building and what it means to the community,” she said afterward. “But I’m proud we will meet the needs of the community moving forward.”