Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center
Alameda County

loma prieta cypress

Photo of the collapsed Cypress Overpass, courtesy of U.S. Geological Society.

by Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

This week we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. The media will cover the remembrances, the progress we have made since then, the victims, the heroes.

Those of us who were around then have memories of this momentous event. My memories are perhaps much more vivid than most. That single event changed my life, changed my career, and ignited in me a passion for health care and the important work we do.

I had worked at Eden Hospital only 2 months when the earthquake hit. My boss was on vacation, camping in the desert far away from news of the quake, and I was a newbie just learning the ropes.  I left work that day just before 5 to get home to meet some friends to watch the World Series.  I was driving my VW convertible down Castro Valley Blvd. when the ground started shaking and the road before me started moving like a snake.  I thought my tires were falling off and that the street lights above would fall on me!  I drove the few minutes to get home, only to find the power out and the phones dead. So I headed back to the hospital to check in, as per our protocol

I didn’t leave the hospital for two days.

We had 42 patients from earthquake-related injuries that night in Emergency and Trauma. The worst were from the Cypress structure collapse in Oakland, brought to our Trauma Center. Not knowing the details, I went first to the Emergency Room, where I sat and listened to one young man talk about leaving his car on the collapsed upper portion of the freeway, climbing down the side of the concrete rubble, and then calling his mom to pick him up. He had an injury to his mouth and was shaken, but he told us the details of what happened. I still remember his face, his name, the shocking details of his story. The TV in the corner of the waiting room was showing news coverage from Oakland and San Francisco, and I got word out to the hospital staff so they would know what was happening.

We set up the Command Center sometime later. Soon, the reporters started showing up and the media calls poured in from all over the country, all over the world. Gloria, my co-worker, and I gathered information from every department, and talked to patients and families. As the spokesperson for the hospital, I conducted interviews for the next two days and, as it turned out, for many months that followed. I was so tired at 4 a.m. when Harry Smith from CBS New York called that I could hardly get the words out.  It wasn’t my best interview, but I was new at this!  We tried our hardest to keep all the information straight: how many patients, where they were from, what their injuries were. We had calls from families trying to find loved ones. We had calls from local residents wanting to know how to help. Reporters from other parts of the country were under the impression that the entire SF Bay Area was reduced to rubble, and they wondered how we could even take care of patients.

Over the next several days, I got to know so many of the patients and their stories. Some did interviews, some just wanted to talk privately. Some couldn’t talk, their injuries were so severe the nurses didn’t think they would survive. Two patients from one van on the Cypress freeway were the most severely injured, but they survived, and I remember them and their stories as if it were yesterday. I met their families and got to know them over the next six months or so. And I saw the incredible care that Eden Medical Center’s staff provided. The doctors, the nurses, the respiratory therapists, physical therapists, social workers: all of them played such an important role in their medical and emotional care.

It was because of this experience that I knew that I was in the right place, that the mission and purpose of our organization was alive and carried out in the most complex, and the simplest, ways. We all made a difference, and we were all here for one reason: to take care of the people who need us in the most critical times.  It didn’t matter what our role was, we all had a responsibility to take care of them and their families.  I didn’t check vitals or change dressings, but i could spend time with each of them, help them process what had happened, help them tell their stories if they wanted. I could help their families and our staff with simple things to make their lives there easier.

A year later, we held a press conference with a couple of the patients who survived, along with their doctors and nurses. It was an emotionally charged event, before and after the conference, for one patient in particular. The memories were so vivid and frightening, but she wanted, or perhaps needed, to talk about it, to see the trauma surgeon and staff, to process what had happened. Years later I saw her and her colleague on a PBS special, talking about their lives since the earthquake. My heart ached, and still does, for the pain they endured. Their lives were never the same.  I don’t know where they are now, but I still think of them, pray for them, and wonder if they were able to persevere.

Five years after the earthquake, I met a woman who came into the hospital to give birth to twin boys.  She, too, was severely injured in the earthquake and came to our trauma center that night. She had such severe abdominal injuries that she was told later by her doctor that she would not be able to have children. But life had other plans for her. On this day, October 17, 1994 — the 5th anniversary of the quake — she gave birth to her “miracle” boys. The trauma surgeon who saved her life 5 years earlier assisted in the delivery. They are 15 now, and I wonder if they know how incredible their story is.

These stories, and many others, are on my mind as we approach the 20th anniversary of the quake. It amazes me how much our lives are intertwined by such an event. And how each person I met has their own memories, and their own scars.

I am also grateful for the experience, for all that I learned as a result, and for finding my passion in my career. Today, as I work with the Project Team to build a new hospital, I am reminded why this project is so important. I am proud of the tradition of care at Eden, and proud to be working toward construction of a new hospital so that the tradition can continue for many years to come.

Sutter Medical  Center Faces Costly Delay, Loss of Construction Jobs as State Deadline Looms

The California Nurses Association (CNA) has filed a lawsuit that threatens the future of the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley now under construction.

That the nurses union would sue to stop us from building our new hospital after a decade of planning is extremely frustrating to our employees, physicians, volunteers and patients who have worked so hard and so long for this,” said Eden Medical Center President & CEO George Bischalaney. “This political action by the union hurts everyone, puts thousands of jobs in jeopardy, threatens the future of the hospital and could cause irreparable harm to the community.

This type of action drives up the cost of health care for everyone. After an exhaustive and inclusive public process, the union’s lawsuit could mean will not be able to meet the State’s 2013 deadline to replace the Eden hospital. Not meeting the deadline could result in closure of current hospital before the new hospital is completed and certified for occupancy.”

The Environmental Impact Report and land use entitlements were approved by the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council, the Alameda County Planning Commission and Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The first phase of construction has been approved by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Alameda County granted necessary permits and construction started July 1.

The new medical campus will create more than a 1,000 union jobs during the three years of construction and pump millions of dollars into the local economy benefiting many local businesses.

Construction crews demolished the vacant Pine Cone Apartment complex and began relocating the helipad and are readying the site for the foundation of the $320 million, seven-story, 130-bed hospital and regional trauma center. The new medical center will expand needed emergency and urgent care services. A new 80,000-square-foot medical office building for physicians is also planned. Sutter Health is financing the entire project with no public taxes or funding.

Sutter has invested more than $200 million in capital in Eden Medical Center’s facilities since acquiring the hospital from the Eden Township Healthcare District in 1998. The new hospital and medical office buildings would bring this investment in the regional medical campus and trauma center to more than $600 million by 2013.

Campus View from Main Entry

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

After what has seemed like a very long journey, we now have permits in hand, and contractors have already mobilized on the Eden Medical Center campus to get it ready for construction of the highly anticipated new hospital. We want to keep you informed about the project, and let you know what you can expect in the next week and throughout the month of July.

Fencing around the perimeter of the construction area is almost complete! The fencing goes along our property line on Stanton Avenue, through our campus, and along the adjacent apartment buildings. We are also installing a gate at one of our Stanton Avenue entrances to limit access to the area only to construction vehicles.

Tree stump removal on the future helipad site will begin later this week.  The new site is approximately 150 feet north of the present location, as close as possible to the Eden Medical Trauma Center. Two days have been allocated for this work. Grading of the new helipad site will begin as early as June 26th, and will take up to three weeks to complete.

Demolition of the vacant Pine Cone Apartments on Stanton Avenue will begin July 1st. The structure will be demolished in one day, and it will take about two full weeks to break down and remove the debris.

Hours of work will be from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, but is subject to change as work moves into subsequent phases.  We will keep you posted on construction schedules.

The Alameda County Fire Department has requested use of the vacant Pine Cone Apartment building for training purposes on June 29 and 30, prior to demolition. Firefighters in training often use vacant buildings to practice search, rescue and simulated fire control.  You will see firefighters on site on these dates, using smoke generators (no real fire) and equipment. Their life-saving work is a benefit to the community and we are proud to support their efforts.

If you have any questions or concerns about the preparation phase of construction, please comment on our blog, and we will respond promptly.

Main Entrance

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

After much debate and public input, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to certify the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and approve the zoning and land use entitlements for the new hospital to replace 54-year-old Eden Medical Center.

Passage of the EIR and land use entitlement approvals is a major milestone for the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project—and the communities that will be served by this new, state-of-the-art hospital and adjoining medical office building.

About 20 speakers addressed the Board of Supervisors about the new hospital as well as concerns about future plans for San Leandro Hospital. Eden President & CEO George Bischalaney expressed to the Board members the overwhelming support for the new hospital, even among those who encouraged rejection of the EIR to “save San Leandro Hospital.” Bischalaney and others urged Board members not to delay approvals in order to meet “a very tight project timeline” and advised the Board not to tie the new hospital project to the uncertainty around San Leandro Hospital’s future.

In the end, the Board of Supervisors maintained that its obligation was to make a decision on the land use entitlement proposal before them. However, Board members promised to continue to work with Sutter and the District to come up with an optimal plan for San Leandro Hospital, and to meet the health care needs of the communities.

We are grateful to the many people of Eden Medical Center, San Leandro Hospital and our communities for participating in this process. We had tremendous support at both Board of Supervisors meetings, through the petitions, and all the phone calls and letters of encouragement.

What Happens Now?

The Board’s approval clears the way for SMCCV to use the designated property to build the new hospital, which will be on the northwest side of the Eden Medical Center campus, adjacent to the existing hospital.

In the coming weeks, we will file the appropriate permits to begin work on the land, including the demolition of the vacant apartment building and other site improvements, and the foundation work for the actual construction of the new hospital. Oversight and approval for the further construction is handled by the
California Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development.

The immediate work around the campus will get the land ready for construction and help minimize delays so we can proceed with building the new hospital as soon as possible in order to meet the deadline for State-mandated earthquake safety requirements.

We look forward to moving ahead with the project. As always, your questions and comments are welcome on this blog and on our social networks!

We could really use your support! The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will meet this Tuesday, June 9th, at 1:00 p.m. to make the final decision whether or not to build the new hospital to replace Eden Medical Center and pass the FEIR (Final Environmental Impact Report). We all know the value of having a hospital in our own backyards.

The meeting starts at 1:00, but Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley is on the agenda at 2:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Administration Building, Board Chambers, 1221 Oak Street, 5th Floor, Room 512, in Oakland.  If you would like to read the Board’s agenda in advance, please click and download the PDF file here (see page 2).

We are also still taking signatures on the online petition, if you want to add your name and comments there. Additionally, your comments are always welcome here on this blog.

George Bischalaney, President and CEO, Eden Medical Center

By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

On May 12, 2009, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors deferred action on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and related actions needed to begin the redevelopment of the Eden Medical Center campus.

The delays were for the most part caused by the late submission of information from a group opposing the approval.  Their opposition stems from a misguided effort to link the future of the San Leandro Hospital to the future of the new Eden campus hospital.  Opponents contend there is a nexus in the decision making as well as an unaddressed impact to the new Eden hospital.

Our initial assessment is twofold.  First, the future of each hospital is distinct from the other.  The Board of Supervisors’ actions regarding the Eden redevelopment will not affect the decision process to determine how the San Leandro campus will be used in the future.  Secondly, there was very little or nothing new in the comments that actually addressed the EIR itself.  Hopefully, the Board will draw the same conclusion and move forward with the needed approvals on June 9th.

Eden Medical Center
has been the designated trauma center for Southern Alameda County for more than 20 years.  It has served thousands of patients over that time, including victims of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that shut down the Bay Bridge and collapsed the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland.  It is absolutely critical that Eden is replaced as soon as possible.  Earthquakes, like all natural disasters, are unpredictable. People will rightfully ask why we weren’t prepared if avoidable delays in preparing for the inevitable are not overcome.  We have a need to rise above politics and special interests to meet a greater obligation of the health and well being of the community of being served.  People of good will and with good intentions can do so.  Let’s hope we see this kind of sentiment on June 9th.

You can take action and sign a petition to the Board of Supervisors and urge them to stop delays and vote yes on the EIR.  Please take a moment to sign the petition at the link below.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/rebuild-eden-medical-center

Thank you for your continued support of the new hospital.

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

To follow up on the May 12, 2009 Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, the decision to certify the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been delayed to June 9th to address concerns raised about San Leandro Hospital, which is leased and operated as part of Eden Medical Center, but owned by the Eden Township Healthcare District (the District).  For more information, please see our previous blog post.

In the days prior to the May 12th meeting, after many rounds of public commentary, and after the EIR and related land use entitlements were approved by the Castro Valley MAC (Municipal Advisory Council) and the Alameda County Planning Commission, several community members and labor representatives raised last minute concerns about parts of the EIR. Those opposed to the EIR certification claim that there was not an adequate assessment of the impact of any possible closure or change of services at San Leandro Hospital, despite the fact that the EIR consultant and County planning staff have stated that the EIR is complete and the issues around San Leandro Hospital, while not related to the project, have no impact on the project. Supervisor Nate Miley made a motion for the Board to meet again to make the decision on June 9, 2009, which would provide attorneys for Alameda County an opportunity to examine these claims in more detail.

Supervisors Miley and Haggerty voiced their concerns about speakers making false or misleading allegations as a political tactic, in order to delay the EIR approval process, thereby “holding the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project for ransom,” which he and the other Supervisors warned could endanger the future of both Eden and San Leandro Hospitals. While there has been no decision by Sutter Health or the District on the future of San Leandro Hospital, the issue remains a topic of community discussion.

Eden Medical Center President & CEO George Bischalaney and other Sutter and Eden project team members emphasized the urgency of not going beyond June 9th to approve the EIR, as the delay of even a month could significantly hold up construction and may cause Sutter Health to withdraw its support from both hospitals. Sutter Health has already promised the $320 million to pay for the completion of the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley.

At the conclusion of the May 12th meeting, the four Supervisors present, with Supervisor Keith Carson absent, voiced their support for the new hospital project and the need to rebuild Eden Medical Center. They also are concerned about the future of San Leandro Hospital, and that concerns over San Leandro should perhaps be discussed in another forum, unrelated to the land use entitlements for Eden.

As our project team discussed in previous articles and blog posts and at the hearing, any delays in approvals and construction have serious repercussions, in terms of meeting state deadlines to rebuild, in creating a safe environment for patients and staff, and in funding this major project. The new hospital must be rebuilt, or it will close as an acute care facility effective January 1, 2013. We now have before us a fully funded hospital project—without public funding or taxes—that will secure the future of Eden Medical Center, preserve jobs and bring nearly 1,000 construction jobs to the region at a time when the economy is depressed and construction is drying up.

As I stated before, the issues around San Leandro Hospital are complex and important.  The community has a right to know what is happening. But the information being discussed now is no different that it has been for the past several years: the hospital is struggling and must be reinvented to bring value to the community and ensure that it can sustain itself over time.  It is clear to me that the residents of San Leandro desire a full service community hospital, yet the majority of them will never use it. The community and local elected officials have known that this is a concern, and yet this last minute effort to stop the EIR based on what some claim to be “new information” is not justified. San Leandro Hospital, its employees, physicians and patients need to be part of the solution for the hospital, to be discussed in its own forum with regional providers who can bring truth and substance to the discussion.  It should not be used as a political maneuver to stop Sutter Health from rebuilding Eden.

Please speak up, let our Board of Supervisors know they must not delay any further.  These delays put both hospitals in jeopardy. I encourage you to stand up and let your voice be heard on this issue.  Don’t just wait for the next hearing, but instead pick up the phone or send a letter to the Board and let them know you support the new hospital project, and encourage them to certify the EIR so the project can move forward before it’s too late.

Call today!

Supervisor Nate Miley — 510-272-6694

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker — 510-272-6693

Supervisor Gail Steele — 510-272-6692

Supervisor Keith Carson — 510-272-6695

Supervisor Scott Haggerty — 510-272-6691

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

We are only a week away from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors hearing in which the Board will consider the Final Environmental Impact Report, zoning changes, and Castro Valley general plan changes. We are asking for your support at this critical step.

Local groups and some residents of San Leandro are applying fierce political pressure on the Board members to deny approval. Their reason? The future of San Leandro Hospital is unknown, and therefore they are pressuring the Board of Supervisors to require Sutter Health to keep San Leandro Hospital open as a condition of approving the land use for the new hospital in Castro Valley.

What wrong with this?  First of all, the Board of Supervisors are not voting on the future of San Leandro Hospital—they are having a public hearing on the land use entitlements and certifying the EIR. To delay or deny approval based on pressure about San Leandro is wrong.

The future of San Leandro Hospital is not and should not be tied to the new hospital. Indeed, San Leandro Hospital is a critical issue that must be addressed—and it requires a regional solution, more careful planning, and a separate focus than this project.  It’s an important issue that cannot be overlooked, for the sake of the staff, physicians and patients. But the complex issues at one hospital should not be tied to the land use entitlements for the new hospital project.

Simply stated, by delaying plans for the new hospital, the Board will jeopardize the future of Eden AND San Leandro hospitals.

I am asking you to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 12 and SPEAK UP in favor of our new hospital. Speakers are limited to 3 minutes, but a simple 30-second statement is powerful. The Board needs to know that residents of Castro Valley and surrounding communities want and need this new hospital, without delays.

Meeting details:

Tuesday, May 12
1:00 p.m.

Board of Supervisors Meeting Chambers
1221 Oak Street, Oakland

If you cannot attend the meeting, we need to you to contact the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and have you voice your opinion. It is so important that the Board hears from everyone, especially since the majority of people in our community support this project (an astounding 80% of community members are in favor according to recent polls!).

Call your Supervisors today!

Supervisor Nate Miley — 510-272-6694

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker — 510-272-6693

Supervisor Gail Steele — 510-272-6692

Supervisor Keith Carson — 510-272-6695

Supervisor Scott Haggerty — 510-272-6691

Thank you for your continued support!

As always, we also appreciate your comments and questions on this blog, and we’ll respond as quickly as possible.

Main Entrance at Twilight

The new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley, which will replace Eden Hospital.

Jesus Armas

By Jesús Armas, Government Affairs Liaison

As we discussed in previous posts, acute care hospitals must meet certain earthquake standards by 2013. Failure to meet these standards means that hospitals must cease operations. Recognizing the critical role Eden Medical Center plays in meeting the health care needs of the community, Sutter Health previously expressed its commitment to build a new, state-of-the-art hospital in Castro Valley. Yet, this important project can move forward only if it obtains certain approvals from the County.

We are pleased to report that this project is getting closer to becoming a reality as a result of important decisions by the Alameda County Planning Commission.

On April 6, the Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that it certify the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and modify various General Plan and zoning regulations to allow this project to advance closer to the start of construction.

During the Commission meeting some public speakers expressed concern about the future of San Leandro Hospital.  While the Commissioners acknowledged the points expressed by the speakers, they also expressed their unwavering support for this project, and stressed the importance of not imposing obstacles to the start of construction.

With a favorable recommendation from the Commission, project consideration now advances to the Board of Supervisors.  UPDATE: On May 12th, the Board will hold a public hearing on the project (postponed from the original date of April 28th).  At that time, the Board will be asked to approve the project based on overwhelmingly favorable public testimony to date, and positive recommendations not only from the Alameda County Planning Commission but also the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council and County Planning Staff.  Assuming a favorable Board action, site work will commence this summer.  Overall, construction will take between 24 and 30 months.

We will update this blog with additional information about the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 12th when we are notified. As always, we welcome your questions, concerns and comments.  

 


Rendering courtesy of the Devenney Group

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

This week, the Alameda County Planning Department presented the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Sutter Castro Valley Medical Center and related documents to the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council for review and approval. The Council is an advisory board of seven community members who work on behalf of the unincorporated town of Castro Valley and serves as advisor to Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.

This is one more essential step toward approvals to allow the new hospital project to move forward. The meeting drew a large crowd interested in the future of Eden Medical Center and in health care in the region. Many audience members spoke highly of the project and showed their support for Eden and the new hospital.

There were several members of the audience in attendance who voiced their concerns about the future of San Leandro Hospital, located 4.5 miles from Eden and struggling to survive in these tough economic times. The 93-bed hospital is part of Eden Medical Center and provides services to the San Leandro community.

There has been much discussion about the future of this hospital due to significant financial losses and decreased utilization. While the future of San Leandro Hospital is still unknown, it is clear that it cannot continue as it is today.  Sutter Health and the Eden Township Health Care District (the owner of San Leandro Hospital) are working toward a solution for the hospital so that it continues to provide health care services in a way that meets the needs of the community.

While members voiced their concerns about San Leandro Hospital, they moved forward and approved the issue before them: the land use entitlements and EIR for the Castro Valley project. There was no opposition based on the merits of the project, the land use, nor the environmental impact. What the Council did ask was for the Board of Supervisors, in their approval process, to consider if San Leandro Hospital’s future has an impact on this project.

The next step in the approval process is the Alameda County Planning Commission (April 6) and the Board of Supervisors (April 28)—and both of these are opportunities for us to address how this project will serve the region’s health care needs. But without these land use approvals, the Castro Valley project cannot move forward. And, as we have stated so many times before, this essential project must advance on an accelerated timeline in order to meet the state-mandated deadline of January 1, 2013. After that date, the existing hospital can no longer function as an acute care hospital and must close its doors.

Solving health care problems requires intensive and collaborative efforts. It’s a regional issue, not one that can be solved by one organization alone. What is certain is that we have a new hospital project before us that is fully funded, without tax or public funds, and the first to come forward in Alameda County to meet the State’s earthquake safety standards. It is an amazing project, and one that should not be held back while health care providers in the region work toward a viable solution for San Leandro and other hospitals that are struggling to survive.

We’ll have more information on these issues as they evolve, from experts far more experienced than me. So, in the meantime, I encourage you to view the video prepared for the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council by our architects, the Devenney Group. The animation is a fly-over and fly-through of the new hospital and campus. Enjoy!


Subscribe By Email

  • Subscribe to our blog!
    Enter your email address:

     
  • See our live WebCam!

    webcam

    Our construction WebCam is live, 24 hours a day (ok, so you may not see anything at night!). Go to the SMCCV WebCam now.
  • Welcome To Our Blog

    We have launched a Social Media outreach program, using the Web to keep you informed about our progress in building the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley, a Sutter Health affiliate, which will eventually replace Eden Medical Center. We want to provide you with a forum to interact with us so we can address your questions and concerns.

    Our blog will serve as your Internet "headquarters," where you can find updated information, plus you'll find links to other popular online social networks (see below), where we have started groups and online communities for further discussion about the new medical center.

    We hope you'll subscribe by email or RSS feed. Please go to the "Subscribe by Email" box or the orange RSS icon above. The blog will be updated frequently.

    We look forward to hearing from you and starting a conversation! Please feel free to comment at the bottom of any of the posts. We will respond.

  • Favor our Blog!

    Add to Technorati Favorites

  • Now in Alltop Health!

    Featured in Alltop

  • Featured Video

  • Watch more videos

  • On Social Networks