When the 390,000-square-foot LUNDQUIST TOWER OPENS TO PATIENTS ON NOVEMBER 16, this beautiful, functional, state-of-the-art health care facility will be the culmination of seven years of planning, building and testing—not to mention untold hours of good, old-fashioned hard work. What patients will see, though, is a facility that, on the face of it, looks more like a world-class hotel than a hospital, full of special touches like plenty of NATURAL LIGHT, a peaceful healing garden with flowing water, SPECIALLY COMMISSIONED ARTWORK and features big and small that incorporate the best of the NATURAL AND TECHNICAL WORLDS. The seven-story, $480 million facility will also offer 256 private patient rooms, 12 larger, HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED OPERATING ROOMS and a cafe with seating for 200 people. Meet six people who helped make the Lundquist Tower a reality, ALL WORKING TOGETHER with the same shared mission: TO SERVE THE TORRANCE AND BROADER SOUTH BAY COMMUNITY by delivering the best possible health care.
CRAIG LEACH , PRESIDENT/CEO
When the Lundquist Tower opens in mid- November it will have been seven years almost to the day since the Torrance Memorial board, in conjunction with president/CEO Craig Leach, first approved the project. “It has been a long haul,” says Leach, “but we ended up coming in about $10 million under what was originally budgeted, and we were ready about six months earlier than our targeted move-in date, which is amazing for a project of this scope and size.”
The new tower will meet two key goals: giving the South Bay an earthquake-sound building and also the ability to better serve an aging population. “We know that the country is continuing to age and that as people get older they use more health care services, so we needed to be prepared for that change as it takes place over the coming decades.”
As Torrance Memorial’s leader on the Lundquist Tower, Leach is moved by the huge effort behind making the building a reality, including endless hours of work on the part of health care professionals, construction, technology and architecture experts and support staff. South Bay residents have been very generous as well, he says.
“We’ve received $120 to $130 million in contributions from the community—that is a phenomenal statement of support and trust in what we’re doing here at Torrance Memorial. We will always be grateful for the support the community has shown.”
RICHARD & MELANIE LUNDQUIST, HONORARY CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIRS
About 5½ years ago Torrance Memorial Medical Center CEO Craig Leach shared with Richard Lundquist that the hospital would have to become compliant with California’s earthquake building code requirements by 2029. Leach also shared plans for a new patient tower. Melanie and Richard were intrigued by the project on several levels: philanthropically, strategically and in terms of the impact it would have on the South Bay community.
There began the Lundquists’ involvement in what would become the Lundquist Tower, so named in honor of the couple’s donation of $50 million in December 2013. “It was the start of a partnership and collaboration between two philanthropists, a hospital, and the community,” says Melanie.
The couple’s first gift to Torrance Memorial, in 2006, was $13 million, with $10 million going to the Melanie and Richard Lundquist Cardiovascular Institute and $3 million for the expansion of the hospital’s emergency department. The Lundquists’ relationship with the hospital has long been a personal one; in the 1980s and 90s Melanie spent 11 years as a volunteer at the Information Desk.
“I was one of the Auxiliary volunteers in the blue coats. I observed many positive things happening,” she says. “The seeds were being planted and I saw the leadership, the vision, the fiscal responsibility. Donors don’t give to institutions; they give to relationships, and we have a wonderful relationship with Torrance Memorial and the people there.”
When the Lundquists decided to make their gift for the Tower, their hope for the building was clear. “We wanted to build on the current success and continue to strengthen Torrance Memorial Medical Center to become an even stronger regional medical center. With this philanthropic support, we hoped to affect the recruitment of talented physicians, while maintaining the team of physicians the hospital currently has,” explains Melanie. “Part of our goal was to create an environment of support to the physicians and to approximate a world-class teaching and training environment closer to home.”
“My vision is that the capabilities and prestige of the hospital will continue to grow to provide better and better health care for all the people in the region that will use the medical center,” she continues. The couple is especially grateful for the gratitude they’ve received from Torrance Memorial’s employees—some 300 thank-you notes to date, says Melanie.
“I say to them, ‘you earned it.’ Because of who they are and what they’ve done and how they’ve practiced at work every day, that gave us the opportunity to make this investment,” she adds. “They gave us all the right reasons to do this for the community. Having such a state-of-the-art facility allows everyone to move toward a new professional and personal best. It doesn’t get any better than that!”
CONNIE SENNER, DIRECTOR OF CONSTRUCTION
If there’s one person who knows every nook and cranny of the Lundquist Tower, it may be Connie Senner. As director of construction, Senner brought her 23 years of experience—all at Torrance Memorial—to bear on this highly complex project from day one, bringing together myriad groups to get the job done.
“I direct the general contractor and architect and assure that they execute work per their contract,” explains Senner. “I saw my role as keeping the project on track while assuring that the patients, staff, physicians and volunteers are not negatively impacted.”
For six years, Senner has been the one to answer the essential questions about the building’s construction—namely, “Are we on schedule?” (With the tower opening ahead of the targeted move-in date, colleagues are now more likely to ask her, “When are you going take a vacation?”)
Senner was also responsible for ensuring the existing hospital wasn’t affected by the construction of the Lundquist Tower and communicating to those within Torrance Memorial and beyond what was happening at every turn. “Every week I distributed a house-wide email with photos from the field,” she says. “Our Media Services department has documented the project from the beginning with short construction update videos that I helped narrate.”
Now, though, Senner and her team can enjoy the fruits of their hard work. “When we get all of the patients moved over from the inpatient units, there will be a lot of high-fives,” she says. “Everyone worked very hard to assure that the Lundquist Tower serves the needs of the community for many years to come.”
KEN BOEHLING, CONSTRUCTION MANAGER
Ken Boehling may have been the construction manager on the Lundquist Tower for the past six years, but he’s worn more than just a hard hat to do his job. Boehling worked with a variety of people and departments at Torrance Memorial and beyond to ensure the building got built, down to the last detail.
“My responsibilities included coordinating with staff, architects and consultants; hiring general contractors; and working on budgets,” says Boehling, who’s been at Torrance Memorial since 1994. “During the construction I observed the work being done and resolved any issues as they came up.”
That may sound relatively simple, but a 21st-century hospital with cutting-edge technology is anything but. What may seem like a small problem can eat up tons of time.
“An example is locating a simple item, such as a TV, and the power and signal ports for the TV in a patient room,” he explains. “We spent a lot of time just choosing the size of the TV, then figuring out where to locate the power source and the bracket to secure the TV to the wall, and how to include interactive TV, patient-care programs, Internet access and, of course, movies.”
CHERYL THIELE, PRINCIPAL AND FOUNDER, CREATIVE ART SERVICES, INC.
The Lundquist Tower was conceived with the holistic nature of healing in mind. Surgeries and medications can work miracles, but just as important are compassionate care and consideration of a patient’s mind and spirit. This is how art became an integral part of the new building. It was Cheryl Thiele’s job to bring together more than 400 works of art, representing nearly 200 artists working in paint, photography, glass, aluminum, ceramic and wood.
“Every work was specifically chosen and scaled for each location, which adds a sense of synergy and flow to the entire art program,” explains Thiele. “The art on every floor in the Tower has a theme that was carefully chosen based on the types of services offered in each department. Visiting a hospital may be intimidating and frightening; our intention with the art program is to offer a sense of respite and comfort, to show that we care.”
Thiele brought 30 years of experience working with art in health care to the project; she’s collaborated with Torrance Memorial for more than 20. She worked on the Lundquist Tower project for five years, from inception to the installation of the art. “We wanted the artwork to coordinate with the architecture and design of the tower, while expressing to visitors, patients and staff the connection that Torrance Memorial feels to the South Bay community.”
DEDICATION: IN HONOR OF RICHARD B. HOFFMAN, MD
When the ceremony to dedicate the Lundquist Tower took place on September 13, the focus was wholly on a much-loved physician, Richard (Dick) B. Hoffman, MD, who served as president of the Torrance Memorial Foundation and practiced as a radiologist at the hospital for 38 years. Dr. Hoffman passed away in 2011 at the age of 74.
“The reason that the tower is dedicated to Richard Hoffman is that he was instrumental in bringing Torrance Memorial to the level it’s at today,” explains Melanie Lundquist. “He was there for the ground-breaking of the building and his greatest wish was to see the tower completed.”
Many have benefited from Dr. Hoffman’s leadership, skills and mentoring. He was deeply respected by his colleagues and friends—like Melanie and Richard Lundquist. “When Dick came to the hospital over 40 years ago, it was struggling. When medical supplies were delivered they would arrive COD—Dick Hoffman put them on his credit card,” she says. “Not too many people are willing to do that. Dick was an extraordinary human being, an extraordinary doctor and he really cared for the community.”