Nantucket Cottage Hospital is suing CannonDesign for $8 million for errors it made when designing its new facility. (Photo courtesy of Nantucket Cottage Hospital)

Nantucket Cottage Hospital sues design firm for $8 million over facility flaws

July 10, 2023
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
Architecture firm CannonDesign has found itself the target of an $8 million lawsuit filed by community healthcare provider Nantucket Cottage Hospital, in Massachusetts, which says that the company’s designs for its new facility violated state regulations, endangering its Medicare and Medicaid certification and costing it millions to fix the issues.

NCH is a nonprofit affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and the only hospital on the island of Nantucket, where it provides outpatient, inpatient and surgical care, among other services. It spent $89 million on its new hospital building, which opened in 2019, but says that flaws in CannonDesign’s plans forced it to delay construction and interfered with state regulatory approval. It is alleging breach of contract, negligence, and malpractice.

Among the flaws were fire safety code errors that resulted from the company’s installation of non-load-bearing exterior walls with flammable cedar shingles, according to local news outlet, Nantucket Current. Because of this, the hospital was forced to seek temporary waivers to continue serving Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and spent millions to rebuild the walls.

Additionally, CannonDesign’s operating room plans included a structural steel column directly beside the operating table, breaching Department of Health regulations and going against “common sense,” said the hospital in its complaint, which it filed in Suffolk Superior Court on June 30. It ended up having to redesign the entire hospital interior.

It also says the company did not account for floor space when designing various rooms, failed to design a functional HVAC system, installed a generator with a cable not up to code and lights that did not meet emergency lighting requirements, and failed to immediately address these issues when confronted with them.

“Nantucket Cottage Hospital has brought this complaint simply to enforce the terms of its contract and recoup the costs associated with correcting Cannon’s design errors and associated delays in construction,” NCH told HCB News in an official statement. “The hospital remains licensed and certified, and the suit has no bearing on current operations.”

The company previously paid $12 million to the Department of Justice and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2016 to settle kickback allegations.

The new hospital's construction was funded entirely through private donations. The $8 million is 9% of the hospital’s full price.