Loma Linda University Medical Center

Construction on California’s tallest hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC), has resulted in a multi-million-dollar payment dispute involving at least one contractor on the project. 

In January 2021 Quinn Power Systems, an equipment rental company that provides new and used equipment sales, parts, service and rentals on Cat brand machines, filed a $2.8 million lien. 

Quinn was contracted to work on the new hospital by Berg-Helix, a joint venture between electrical contractors Bergelectric and Helix Electric. Berg-Helix lists LLUMC as a current project on their website.

In the mechanics lien, Quinn Power Systems states they furnished “equipment rentals and related services” to Berg-Helix. The bill for that contract came out to $2.8 million, and Quinn Power Systems has allegedly yet to be paid for their services.

A mechanics lien is a legal claim filed by unpaid contractors, equipment lenders, or material suppliers that puts financial pressure on the property owner to pay. A lien makes it difficult for the property owner to sell or refinance the property until the unpaid claim is settled. 

While not named in the lien, the general contractor on the project, McCarthy Building Companies Inc., has had its share of payment problems recently as well. Since the beginning of 2021, at least five liens have been attached to properties on which McCarthy is the general contractor. 

McCarthy Building Companies Inc. is one of the 25 biggest contractors in the country, but due to the untimely fashion of some payments the company’s payment history puts them in the bottom 20 percent of large U.S. contractors.

Construction updates from the site

Frequent updates on the Loma Linda construction have come courtesy of Dennis E. Park’s personal blog. Dennis is heavily invested in the project, having been a fixture on the Loma Linda University campus for decades.

Dennis earned a MA at Loma Linda University and subsequently “ worked there for 42 years in the areas of administration and financial management, also teaching accounting and management to dietetic students at the School of Public Health.”

On the blog, Eric Schultz, Vice President of Planning, Design, and Construction at Loma Linda University Health said, “that the anticipated May 2021, patient admissions time frame is still on schedule.”

Dennis himself describes that the construction “is winding down” and “moving closer to completion” in recent blog posts.

Additionally, Dennis writes, “completion efforts now focus on completing the building’s interior, including furnishings, equipment, supplies, and all the small touches necessary to make the building ready to receive patients.”

New earthquake regulations 

An unfortunate tragedy was the motivation behind the construction of a new hospital at LLUMC. In 1971, the colossal Sylmar-San Fernando earthquake struck Southern California. 64 people were killed and more than 2,500 people were injured. 

“One of the hardest-hit buildings was the just completed San Fernando Veterans Administration Hospital,” reported AAMCNews, “whose unreinforced concrete wings collapsed, killing at least 44 people.”

Then, in 1994, “the Northridge Quake injured more than 7,000 people and crippled hospitals throughout the Los Angeles area.”

Nine hospitals had to be evacuated and the earthquake, which “caused 3 billion in damage to the region’s hospitals.”

The new hospital at LLUMC is following new and strict building regulations that are to go into effect in California by 2022. 

LLUMC “launched this hospital construction effort in response to stringent California state regulations mandating that all hospitals in the state meet new seismic safety standards by 2020, or be shut down.”

Impressively, “the project is implementing a first-of-its-kind vertical earthquake isolation system which separates the building from the ground using more than 500 vertical shock absorbers — a large scale version of a modern car suspension system.” 

This vertical isolation system represents a gigantic leap forward in both safety and construction.

Hospitals need to be able to withstand an earthquake, and also be able to provide running water and electricity to adequately care for their sick patients. 

These requirements are exactly what the new state regulations are set to address. 

“The first requirements — building codes designed to ensure that hospital buildings will withstand a major earthquake without collapsing — go into effect between 2020 and 2022.”

Furthermore, “ in 2030, even tougher state standards take effect — requirements designed to ensure that hospitals not only remain standing but can also go on operating.”