On an overcast Ventura morning, even the gray skies couldn’t dampen the sleek façade of Community Memorial Health System’s new Ocean Tower, the six-story addition, as it nears opening in Ventura’s midtown.

On a tour hosted by CMH Vice President of Marketing and Development Michael Ellingson, the hospital’s leap into modernity was on full display as Ellingson highlighted improvements over the neighboring building, now known as the Mountain Tower, which was constructed in the 1960s. Of note, an increase in private rooms from 250 to 242, an increase in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit beds from 21 to 28, and 37 private rooms in the Emergency Department, replacing the 17 in the old facility, which utilized draw curtains for privacy.

The new Ocean Tower will serve as a strictly inpatient facility, while the Mountain Tower will serve outpatients.

Faculty and residents currently participate in so-called Day in the Life training so that when the hospital opens — which Ellingson estimated could be by December of this year — physicians, surgeons and staff will be knowledgeable on the whereabouts of materials and the layout of the buildings.

Several design features in the building itself stand out: seismic outfitting, featuring support structures built into the design visible in some patient rooms and certain areas of the hospital, will allow the building to shift without being damaged in the event of an earthquake; separate elevators for patients and surgeons offer a level of privacy lacking in the Mountain Tower; an air-flow system that exchanges air up to 22 times per hour; and, says Ellingson, “Nobody has the crystal ball that will go 50 years in medicine,” and in that light, the hospital will feature 3,000 square feet of empty space so that when the need arises for an expansion or new equipment, the Ocean Tower will be ready for it.

Landscaping around the new tower including features a labyrinth and community park, open to the public, and a private healing garden within the hospital for use by patients and their families and guests.

The Ocean Tower will also feature 500 pieces of art sourced locally, which will be the subject of a showcase in November. As the tour concluded, artist Frank Bauer was putting the finishing touches on a mosaic tile mural at the entrance to the facility.

In all, the cost for the Ocean Tower was $350 million.