Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center
California Environmental Quality Act

Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

We recently held an Open House for employees to learn more about the new hospital construction and explore the layout of the new facility and campus. It was at this event that many staff members learned for the first time that, when the new hospital opens in 2013, the campus will be smoke free.

A smoke-free campus means that smoking will not be allowed anywhere on the hospital property, including the grounds, gardens and parking areas, by any person – including employees, physicians, volunteers, patients and visitors.

We are taking this bold step because the new hospital brings a renewed and heightened commitment to our mission to improve the health of the individuals and communities we serve. Without a doubt, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. We believe that we have a responsibility to take a leadership role on this major health issue and promote a healthier environment.

Eden Medical Center has offered an array of smoking cessation programs for many years to help decrease tobacco use in our community. Looking ahead, we will multiply our outreach efforts and use coaching and support to address staff and visitors using tobacco on hospital grounds. Tobacco-free initiatives have the potential to improve the health of thousands, reduce health care costs, improve workplace safety and contribute to community health improvement.

Hospitals across the country are adopting smoke-free campus policies successfully by reaching out to staff, patients and visitors with effective alternatives to smoking to reduce stress. As a leader in improving health care in our community, we believe this effort is well worth undertaking.

This is just the beginning of this conversation about a smoke-free campus.
We welcome suggestions from you and leading health experts on the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use and boost our outreach efforts.

“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke is deadly.”
Dr. Richard H. Carmona,
U.S. Surgeon General Report, July 2006

George Bischalaney, President and CEO, Eden Medical Center

By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

Health care reform is on the agenda, again. The stakes are high, but our President is determined to make some significant changes. As the discussion moves from general to specifics, special interests are staking out their positions. None of the stakeholders—hospitals included—wants to feel the impact or be at a disadvantage.

Amidst the demand for cost reduction and health care coverage for all, there is and must be continued investment in care. Physicians demand it. They expect to be able to practice with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to produce outcomes that meet national, state and local quality standards. Patients demand it. They want to know that their local hospital has the right number of well-trained staff as well as the latest diagnostic and treatment equipment, and contemporary facilities.

With this backdrop of conflicting needs, Eden Medical Center is about to begin a three-year project that will result in the replacement of the Castro Valley hospital. The project cost is estimated to be $320 million. The current 55-year-old building is anything but contemporary. With few private rooms, small operating rooms and inadequate support space for clinical services, a new hospital is very much needed.

Eden Medical Center has served the community well, but it was not designed for patient comfort and needs, more for staff needs and functionality. While our project may seem ill timed given the uncertainty of hospital reimbursement, we are required to meet California legislated standards for seismic safety in hospitals. And it truly is needed.

We’ll celebrate our long sought goal with a ground-breaking ceremony on July 1st. Then we’ll spend the next three years continuing the investment in the new buildings and equipment, while observing and hoping that decision makers do not enact legislation that essentially penalizes us for the commitment we are making. When we celebrate the grand opening and our new beginning early in 2013, it should be with the same hope and dreams as those who celebrated the first ceremony in 1954.

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.

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!

Main Entrance at Twilight The new year brings renewed energy and focus on our project, as we move toward completing the entitlements to begin construction of the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley hospital. The first major step in that process is the completion of the Environmental Impact Report. In December 2008, the Alameda County Planning Commission filed the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), and it is now available for inspection and comment.

As a reminder, the second public hearing on the DEIR is scheduled for tonight, Monday, January 5, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., in the Public Hearing Room of the Alameda County Planning Commission, 224 West Winton Avenue, in Hayward.

Of course, this isn’t the only opportunity to comment. The County can provide you with copies of the DEIR, or you can view them here, and you can send correspondence to the County directly in response to the DEIR. All of these links are provided here for your convenience.

In the meantime, we continue to grow our online network to keep our communities informed about our progress. We are still in the early stages, and we expect to continue to develop our online communities over the next several years through the construction period. Look for us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed and other popular sites, linked from the icons in the right sidebar.

You can also connect to us through your own social media networks. Contact our Social Media Team to let us know the URL (Web address) for your business, neighborhood or other social network where it might be appropriate for us to comment and discuss the new hospital with your online community.

Here’s to a healthy New Year!

Cassandra Phelps Clark
Project Communications Director

Jesus Armas

This week, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was made available by Alameda County for public review and comment. This is a major milestone for this project, putting us one step closer to a new hospital for residents for central Alameda County. The document is about 300 pages of detail, and is available through the Alameda County Planning Commission. We are also planning to make it available on our site as downloadable PDF documents. Please keep checking our Resources page for updates.

The public is able to comment on the DEIR through January 20, 2009 (the end of the 45-day comment period). We’ve posted the County’s announcement that contains information about how to provide comment. We’ve also provided you with a link to their e-mail. Keep in mind that all comments directly related to content of the DEIR must go to the Alameda County Planning Department—we do not receive or review these comments first. Of course, as always, if you just have a general comment about the project or any of the blog posts, you are welcome to comment directly to us in the comment section below each post.

For those of you who are interested in attending a public meeting, the County is holding two hearings during the comment period:

Monday, December 15 at 6 p.m.
Castro Valley Unified School District Office
4400 Alma Avenue, Castro Valley

Tuesday, January 5, 2009 at 6 p.m.
Alameda County Planning Commission
Public Hearing Room
224 West Winton Avenue, Hayward

I encourage you to take the time to review all or a portion of the document, ask us questions if you have them, and let us know what you think.

Jesus Armas

By Jesús Armas, Government Affairs Liaison

In 1970, the State of California adopted landmark legislation known as the California Environmental Quality Act. The Act, often referred to by its four-letter acronym (CEQA), establishes a requirement that the potential environmental impacts associated with a proposed project be analyzed before a decision is made to approve or deny a project. If, as a result of this analysis, it is determined that a project will have significant environmental impacts, CEQA also requires that measures be identified to address the impacts. These are called mitigation measures. CEQA also acknowledges that not all impacts can be fully mitigated, and sets up a mechanism whereby a project can still be approved, provided the final decision makers make certain findings indicating why the benefits of the project outweigh the impacts which cannot be mitigated.

Central to CEQA is the principle that individuals, agencies and other interested parties have the right to review and comment on what is learned through the environmental evaluation process. An obvious question emerges: What is the best way to obtain, assemble and make available the information resulting from this process?

The answer lies in a document called an Environmental Impact Report—or EIR for short. Basically, this document contains relevant information documenting whether a project is expected to impact the environment and how the identified impacts will be lessened. Established procedures determine which issues must be addressed in an EIR, but among the most common are traffic, air quality and noise. Once completed, the document—known as a Draft EIR (DEIR)—is released for public review and comment. Under CEQA, interested parties have 45 days in which to submit written and oral comments.

After the comment period is concluded, responses to these comments must be prepared. The responses to the comments, together with the Draft EIR, constitute what is called the Final EIR. It is this latter document that is presented to and considered by the governmental body with authority to act on a project.

With the foregoing as background, how does this relate to Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley? A number of months ago, with the concurrence and approval of Alameda County, the environmental consulting firm of ESA was retained to conduct an environmental assessment of the project. This assessment has been completed, allowing the County to release the DEIR for public review and comment. Electronic copies will be available on our Resources page within the next few days, with paper copies available as noted at the location listed here. A summary of the document, including a list of project impacts and how they are to be addressed can be obtained by clicking here.

The comment period opened December 4, 2008 and concludes at 5:00 PM on January 20, 2009. Comments on the Draft EIR should not be submitted to Sutter Health or Eden Medical Center. They should be submitted to Alameda County.

In addition to receiving written comments, the County scheduled at least two public hearings to enable interested parties to comment orally, as I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, on October 30th. The first hearing is sponsored by the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council and will be held on December 15th. The Alameda County Planning Commission will be the site of the second public hearing, which will occur on January 5, 2009. Click here for times and locations.

While Sutter Health welcomes your comments on this post, please be aware this will not constitute an official comment on the Draft EIR. If you wish to comment on the Draft EIR, please avail yourself of the opportunities listed above, and keep checking back to download .pdf copies of the Draft EIR on the Resources page.

Birds-eye View of Campus in 2014

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