LOS ANGELES – One of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ top generals for military and international operations made his first visit to Southern California during a weeklong tour of some of the agency’s Los Angeles District projects.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Milhorn, the Corps’ deputy commanding general for Military and International Operations, toured several project sites across the desert and the coastline – from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin to Vandenburg Air Force Base – during his visit to California.
Milhorn is responsible for policy, programming and technical support in the execution of more than $18 billion of design, construction and environmental programs for the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, as well as other Department of Defense, federal agencies and foreign countries.
NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER, FORT IRWIN
The general’s first stop was to the National Training Center April 26 at Fort Irwin, California.
While there, Milhorn was accompanied by Brig. Gen. Paul Owen, commanding general of the Corps’ South Pacific Division; Maj. (Promotable) Jeffrey Beeman, deputy commander for the Corps’ Los Angeles District; and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, along with program and project managers with the LA District's Fort Irwin Resident Engineer Office.
The group toured several of the Corps’ completed military construction projects at Fort Irwin, including Weed Army Community Hospital and the Fort Irwin Water Works, the installation’s water treatment plant.
The LA District was the lead agency in the design of the new Weed Army Community Hospital, which officially opened following a September 2017 ribbon-cutting ceremony.
At a cost of about $211 million, the 216,000-square-foot structure was the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-platinum, carbon-neutral, net-zero certifiable hospital in the Department of Defense.
To date, the hospital has received numerous local and national awards, including the Chief of Engineer’s Honor Award for Conceptual Design for “demonstrating exceptional innovation in military medical facility design.”
Additionally, in 2018, the hospital received an American Institute of Architects Award of Merit for “exemplary built architecture” and an AIA Award of Merit for sustainability, and, in 2019, the hospital was recognized during the 2019 Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo by the U.S. Green Building Council, Los Angeles Chapter, as the “Municipal Project of the Year” for its LEED Platinum certification.
The design and construction contract for the Fort Irwin Water Works was awarded in September 2012, and work began in July 2013. Following completion of the project in May 2016, the plant began processing as the single source of water for the installation. In addition to the LA District, the project was supported by several other Corps’ districts, including Mobile and Sacramento, as well as the Engineer Research and Development Center and the Corps’ South Pacific Division.
Following the tour, Milhorn met with Corps' employees and briefed them about some of the Corps’ current missions, providing an overview on how and where those projects are being executed.
VA LONG BEACH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
The general’s next stop was to see three of the Corps’ ongoing construction projects at the Department of Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System medical complex April 27 in Long Beach.
The VA Long Beach Healthcare System serves more than 50,000 veterans.
While there, Milhorn received an update about the progress of the VA Long Beach Major project, which includes five phases of design and construction. The first two phases are in construction and include a new community living center and mental health in-patient and out-patient facilities.
The mental health facilities consist of separate two-story buildings – an 80,000-square-foot outpatient facility and a 40-bed, 82,000-square-foot inpatient facility. Both buildings are intended to be LEED-certified silver or better upon completion.
The community living center will be an 181,000-square-foot, three-story, 120-bed facility, which will provide a residential living complex with patient units. Each patient unit will feature a bariatric room, kitchen, dining room, living area, bathing suite and quiet room, along with staff support zones.
The other three phases of the project will include a combined heat and power plant; design and construction of a new 491-space parking structure and surface parking; and the future demolition of the existing mental health facility and community living center. Total cost of all five phases of the project is about $350 million.
Following a tour of the ongoing construction sites, Milhorn thanked those working on the project.
He reminded them to continue working with “our partners and stakeholders” on the most effective and innovative ways to complete the projects on behalf of the many veterans and warfighters, who will use the facilities.
“We are holding ourselves to the quality and standards that are required by the Veterans Administration,” he told them. “Your efforts are instrumental on the behalf of so many veterans that are going to benefit from these facilities. You’re heroes in my eyes.”
The Corps’ partnership with the VA in the region includes 14 major projects and an investment of more than $3.97 billion in updating and upgrading facilities throughout the Pacific Southwest.
FEMA MISSION TO SUPPORT LA-AREA HOSPITALS IN COVID RESPONSE
The general’s visit to LA-area hospitals didn’t just stop at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System. On April 28, Milhorn traveled to Adventist Health White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights and then to Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City to get a close-up look at the finished additions to the hospitals as part of FEMA’s support to the State of California in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Corps deployed to the Los Angeles area Jan. 1 under the COVID-19 major disaster declaration. Several LA-area hospitals were having oxygen system issues and overcapacity due to the surge in COVID-19 patients at that time.
After assessing 12 hospital sites in the greater Los Angeles area, the Corps received missions to complete contracting and construction at three hospitals: White Memorial and Mission Community, as well as Beverly Community Hospital in Montebello. All three have since passed their final inspections.
At White Memorial, the Corps and its contractor built an 80-bed alternate care facility and all supporting utilities in a parking area next to the hospital. At Mission Community, the team built two alternate care facilities adjacent to the hospital – one, a 24-bed facility for COVID-acute patients, and the second, a 10-bed facility for Non-COVID, non-acute patients. And, at Beverly Community Hospital, the team converted the hospital’s west wing to provide a 17-room NON-COVID area, and converted the hospital’s day care waiting room to a COVID staging area, by adding high-flow oxygen and converting the area to negative pressure.
“It’s such an honor to be out visiting such an incredible team of professionals – from the first responders, who are the benefactors of all the work that we’ve done here, to our collaboration with our contracting team, and certainly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ professionals,” said Milhorn, who was accompanied by Owen; Col. Julie Balten, Los Angeles District commander; and Van Dorpe, as well as hospital leaders, representatives from the City of Los Angeles and members of the contracting teams.
The hospital additions are the result of a team effort among FEMA, the California Department of Public Health, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California Department of General Services, the City of Los Angeles, hospital officials, and the Corps and its contractors.
“They’ve all performed extraordinary feats under the circumstances,” Milhorn said. “This is just another example of the professionalism that rises to the occasion in times of crisis, and we look forward to seeing what the outcomes will be in support of the health care professionals. We hope it meets its original intended purpose, and should they ever need to repurpose the facility in support of their needs, all the better.”
VANDENBURG AIR FORCE BASE
The last stop for the general during his Southern California portion of the visit was to Vandenburg Air Force Base, where he received an update on the Corps’ support to the base, which includes more than $379 million in military construction work between now and 2025.