Since 1979 when the firm’s big project was an energy audit at San Jose Hospital, Salas O’Brien has created thousands of well-designed, safe, and efficient healthcare facilities. As we have grown from a single California office to 24 offices nationwide, we’ve continuously expanded our health care leadership and expertise.

Roy LopezWhen OMB Electrical Engineers joined Salas O’Brien, we gained another team with exceptional healthcare experience and leadership.

In this brief interview, Roy Lopez, Principal in our Irvine office, shares how he developed an expertise in healthcare projects, and how he’s now sharing that expertise through his active leadership on the OSHPD Board.

What does OSHPD do?

OSHPD (Office of Statewide Healthcare Planning and Development) is familiar to those doing healthcare work in California—it’s the State’s building department that is the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for construction of hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

OSHPD makes policy decisions and sets standards for medical facilities in California and approves projects for design compliance. They are known worldwide as having the highest standards in building design and construction to ensure patient safety and care.

Roy, how long have you been an engineer? How and when did you know that you wanted to be an engineer?

I’ve been an engineer for 30 years. When I was a kid, I constantly tinkered with our telephones and house wiring/lighting, and I knew that somehow, electrical engineering was in my future.

How did you end up specializing in hospital & healthcare work?

I love both the technical aspects of healthcare projects and playing a role in improving healthcare for patients, and in particular, for children stricken with serious diseases or recovering from injuries.

Which projects are you most proud of and why?

Two projects come immediately to mind. First, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) Surgery Center addition and new central plant, which involved upgrade and relocation of the medical center’s electrical utility service substation (18.75 MVA) across a major street in Los Angeles. The center includes 14 state-of-the-art operating rooms, and the central plant includes an 8 MW emergency generation system. Another project I’m excited about is a new 177,000-square-foot, four-story acute care replacement hospital building for Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

I am especially proud of my work on the CHLA project because of my involvement with the project from the very beginning. Starting with initial due diligence, I analyzed existing electrical systems, developed a master plan, and created conceptual designs for the electrical infrastructure. These designs supported the medical center’s planned construction of a new replacement hospital tower and research laboratory buildings, and gave me the opportunity to be involved as the engineer of record for CHLA construction projects over the past 20 years (and the foreseeable future).

Tell us about your position on the OSHPD board.

I am completing my first year of a four-year term as the electrical engineer on the Hospital Building Safety Board (HBSB). I will serve for two terms (eight years total). I am currently a committee member on both the New Technology and Energy Conservation & Management committees.

How did you get appointed?

An OSHPD senior electrical engineer nominated me after performing plan checks/reviews on several of our projects. I then went through an interview process and was sworn in at OSHPD’s Sacramento headquarters in June 2018. During the interview process, I was asked why I wanted to serve, and I responded that I hoped my 30 years of experience on healthcare projects will help OSHPD code interpretations, policies, and procedures for years to come.

What changes do you see ahead for healthcare design?

I see several things on the horizon:

  • Adoption and implementation into code of the State of California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Regulations for Title 24 energy compliance, primarily including lighting controls.
  • Implementing new technology with LED color-changing capabilities and controls to simulate circadian rhythms to assist patient comfort, recovery, and rehabilitation.
  • Use of Indigo-Clean LED lighting fixtures for infection control. This innovative technology uses a combination of 405nm indigo and white LEDs, emitting a narrow spectrum light that kills bacteria in the air as well as on hard and soft surfaces.
  • Further application of electronic plan review with OSHPD and video conference plan review meetings via webcams and smart TVs.