Since the opening of the cloverleaf Loma Linda University Medical Center in 1967, the entrance has always been across from Starr Street. That’s all about to change.

According to Eric Schilt, MBA, assistant vice president for construction, Loma Linda University Health, the organization took this historic step on April 12 and officially moved its main entrance to face Prospect Avenue, creating a direct corridor to Loma Linda Healthcare System’s VA Medical Center.

“We are on a very tight schedule in order to open the new hospital by January 1, 2020,” Schilt explains. “The patient parking lot will be completely fenced off right up to the front of Children’s Hospital and the adult hospital.”

Where will patients park? “The patient parking garage next to the emergency department is a few weeks behind schedule,” Schilt continues. “The structure itself is usable to some extent, but the elevators are not yet installed. The garage should be completely finished by June at the latest.”

That fact and a delay in finishing the Grand Hallway entrance have forced construction planners and administrators to improvise.

“All of our patients and visitors will receive valet parking,” Schilt reveals, “until the elevators are in place and the Grand Hallway is more accessible.” A company has been hired to oversee the valet services through early June, which will allow patients and visitors to receive the best possible service and minimize the inconvenience.

The only part of the construction process that is somewhat predictable is the opening date of January 1, 2020. “Those in the construction field will tell you that things very rarely go according to plan,” Schilt laughs. “Just think back to your last home construction project. It’s much the same, only on a massive scale.”

Patients, visitors, and employees may wonder what’s going on behind the fences. The dust and noise can be annoying, as well as seem never-ending.

“We are making major progress,” Schilt assures. “We’ve worked on the many utilities needed for the new complex so that hopefully we won’t have to dig things up again down the road. But no guarantees.”

Many of the unplanned adjustments are the result of numerous regulations and requirements on many levels that often change between one inspection and the next.

“We’re looking forward to late May or early June,” Schilt adds, “when patients can self-park and access the Children’s and adult hospitals through the partially completed Grand Hallway. And we’ll continue to deal with the daily surprises that are sure to come our way.”

The plan for the area in front of the current hospital building is shown above. In the coming weeks, patients and visitors will enter at Prospect Avenue and loop in front of the current entrance to the adult hospital, where they can be dropped off. Construction fencing will eventually surround the entire patient parking lot and previous entrance. All patients and visitors will receive complimentary valet parking.

As visitors and employees endure the dust and noise of construction, it always helps to see the end result. The new hospital towers will open January 1, 2020. The construction process is taking place at a frenetic pace without much of a margin in order to meet the required move-in date.