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County plans renovations for Rancho Los Amigos

DOWNEY — The 127-year old Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, located at 7601 Imperial Highway, will get a $418 million makeover by Los Angeles County, according to Rancho CEO Jorge Orozco.

He outlined plans for the 48-acre northern portion of the site to the Downey City Council March 24 and at a public meeting at the hospital March 26 for nearby residents.

A meeting for the general public will be set in the coming weeks, a spokesperson said.

Rancho serves about 4,000 inpatients and 71,000 outpatients a year, including many suffering from spinal cord injuries or head trauma

He said the staff numbers about 1,600, including affiliated physicians, plus another 800 workers who are contracted for special services. His annual budget is about $280 million.

Orozco said there are seven projects planned.

They include a three-story expansion of the 150-bed Jacquelin Perry Hospital and a new outpatient and wellness center that will offer physical therapy and a therapy pool; a new warehouse and a new parking structure, demolition of old buildings, landscaping and a large plaza in the center of the complex with a directional tower to denote locations of the new buildings.

“It will be a park-like facility with walking trails and gardens and will be retrofited to withstand earthquakes,” Orozco added.

Work is expected to start in 2016 and end in 2020, said Derrick Lee, senior engineer with the county Public Works Department, speaking at the March 24 Downey City Council meeting.

Benjamin Ovando, chief operating officer at Rancho, laid out other plans March 26.

A 200-vehicle parking structure addition will go under construction this summer on the east side of the current structure, just east of Old River School Road. That structure offers more than 1,100 spaces.

Demolition of current buildings east of the current structure, built years ago and mostly vacant, will start in July and be completed by the end of the year, to make room for the new buildings.

Construction of the parking structure addition, the Wellness and Aquatic Therapy building, including a pool, east of the parking structure; a warehouse northwest of the parking facility; and the large open entry plaza to the south will begin near the end of this year, with completion expected in August 2016.

The construction of the new outpatient building on the east side of the wellness center, both using the same large, open lobby, will start in December, along with a three-story addition and renovation of the Perry Hospital. They will be completed in October 2018.

The outpatient building will include rooms for physical and speech therapy and a pharmacy.

The addition to the hospital will include an imaging or radiology facility, a conference room, an auditorium, a chapel, a surgery facility and an intensive care unit.

Renovations are planned for the Perry Hospital, built in 1994 and named for a prominent doctor and researcher at Rancho Los Amigos.

Also being renovated and preserved will be the historic Harriman Building, constructed and named for a prominent Rancho doctor in the 1920s, Ovando said.

The building is on the south side of the plaza, north of Imperial Highway and used as administrative offices.

Ovando said the tower, behind the Harriman Building, will direct visitors to the plaza and new buildings. Instead of entering Rancho Los Amigos from Rives Avenue to the east, Old River School Road from the west and Imperial from the south, the entrance will only be from Imperial.

The demolition of remaining buildings on the east side, off Rives, and landscaping will be completed by 2020.

The project will result in needed improvements and make Rancho a state-of-the art rehabilitation facility, Ovando said.

Lee said the improvements will make access to the facility easier for the public and will meet requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act to help the handicapped.

Contractors have been asked to keep the disturbance of homes on Quill Drive to the north to a minimum, with construction limited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Ovando said.

Questions or complaints on the Rancho Rising 2020 project may be made in English or Spanish 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling (562) 219-4771.

“As the only rehabilitation hospital in Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services, Rancho Los Amigos serves a unique and vital role in patient recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration,” the hiospital’s website says. “The hospital specializes in brain, neurology, orthopedic, pediatric, spine injury and stroke rehabilitation. Each year, the hospital provides care to approximately 4,000 inpatients and 71,000 outpatients, making it one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the nation.

For more than two decades, Rancho has been ranked among the top rehabilitation hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. The hospital serves as a branch campus of the University of Southern California Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Allied Health professions, and is affiliated with universities throughout the nation.