Electricians with Local 11 help complete a landing spot for families of patients at City of Hope
By Oren Peleg
Families whose loved ones are receiving lifesaving treatment at the City of Hope Cancer Center get to stay at a special hotel that will have IBEW Local 11’s personal union touch.
In the summer of 2020, City of Hope broke ground on Hope Village, a five-story, 152-unit hotel that will enable three times as many patients and their families to stay on the hospital’s campus during treatment as previous facilities allowed. Hope Village is being funded mostly through donations to the medical center, and City of Hope chose Anderson & Howard as the project’s electrical contractor. That meant thousands of hours of manpower for Local 11 members, some of whom sensed the importance of the project on a personal level.
“We’ve had approximately 25,000 man hours for this project,” explained Local 11 member Juan Uribe, general foreman for A&H Electric, which is signatory contractor on the hotel project, during a recent visit. The roughly 115,000 square foot structure had topped out a few months prior, and Uribe’s electrical crew was working on the third floor.
With the bulk of construction occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Uribe noted that there have been significant challenges. To begin with, the procurement and cost of materials as supply chain issues have increased prices and made raw materials much harder to get because they need to be shipped from different areas of the country. Also challenging is the physical terrain on which the job site is located.
“Because of the [San Gabriel] foothills, we have rocks the size of two feet by three feet, and you can’t really auger anything down,” Uribe said. “You have to over-excavate and over-frame with the excess use of concrete just to be able to achieve what you have.”
For site foreman Darin Warren, another Local 11 member, the project’s underground construction was another challenge.
“It took a lot of coordination to make sure that all of our underground [electrical] was installed in precise locations,” he explained.
Warren was able to get Local 11 apprentices on this job and help train them. “I always enjoy working with apprentices because it’s a learning process for them,” he said. “And it’s an opportunity for me to help guide them along, give them tips and experience so that they can have that under their belt moving forward.”
On the Hope Village project, fifth-year apprentice Javier Cantoran and his fellow electricians were able to practice everything from roughing in walls, to metal cable work, and even putting in switches and receptacles.
“Before I got into the union, I never touched this stuff before,” said Cantoran. “There’s always challenges, and some of the stuff is a little bit new to me. Some of the higher, more complicated work with the panel is really new to me. So, visually being here and having someone explain it to me was really helpful.”
When Kevin Campos, a third-year apprentice, joined the site, the crew had already finished the decks. Campos has been learning a bit about conduits, a lot of flags and “a lot of things I’d never really seen before.” He had worked on smaller projects—such as TI, single story—but never on the scale of five stories and 152 rooms.
“It was nice getting used to a big job like this,” he said.
Journeyman Ismael Jimenez Mesa, a Local 11 member for over two years, had done this type of work before. But for the Hope Village project, shortages of standard materials meant working with something new. Not only has the union helped him become familiar with different materials, Mesa says he takes pride in working on a facility that will help people.
The experience of the families who will be using these rooms is one second foreman Armando Galvan knows intimately. Galvan’s daughter lived through a similar experience, spending time in a hospital and needing a transplant. For that reason, Galvan believes that his personal touch will line the walls of Hope Village and will help those who will ultimately use the rooms to feel more at home.
Through the Ronald McDonald House, Galvan and his family were well taken care of during their stay at the hospital while his daughter was recovering. “I spent a lot of time in the hospital,” Galvan concludes. “So I know that feeling.”
Work on Hope Village is set to end in November, with the hotel opening in 2022.