Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center

Guest blog from Ken Hinck
Eden’s Director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
and Disaster Preparedness Coordinator


We’re all aware of the devastating events happening in Japan.  News updates are available around the clock, and we can’t help but focus on the dramatic images of destruction, heroics, despair and hope. The events in Japan remind us again of the immense power of our planet. And we’re witnesses to the ability of the people of Japan, arguably the most earthquake-prepared people in the world, to cope in the earthquake’s aftermath.

Our focus rapidly shifted as events unfolded. Initially, we focused on the news of one of the world’s largest recorded earthquakes and, soon after, the destruction caused by the tsunami.  As the tsunami raced across the Pacific, we awaited the arrival of the tsunami surge upon our shores, amazed by the strength of a surge generated 5,000 miles away.  And now our focus shifts to Japan’s nuclear disaster and to the presence, no mater how unlikely, of any increased radiation here at home.

Chile, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, and now Japan, I’ve heard it said that the faults of North America are the only “Ring of Fire” faults not to have ruptured in the past decade. Although there is some small comfort in knowing that the type of faults we live on won’t generate an earthquake of Japan’s magnitude, given Bay Area soil, a significant earthquake can cause violent shaking in some areas. Depending on the location of an Alaskan earthquake, a tsunami could affect our coast and could raise concerns about California’s nuclear power plants located on or near active faults and the coastline.

So what do we do?

We take this as a wake up call and prepare! Our focus should shift from current events to our own preparation. It is not a mater of if, but when, a major earthquake will hit the Bay Area.  Ben Franklin said it best, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  If we fail ourselves, we fail our family, and we can not help our community. And as we have seen, a strong community will be needed to respond and be resilient.

Our ability to provide assistance begins with individual preparedness. Studies indicate that responders first need to know that their families are safe so they may fully respond to an event.  At Eden, we offer our staff classes in individual and family preparedness so they are confident in their family’s safety and are better able to focus on serving our community.  I believe we need to increase the number of prepared families in our communities so that we are all able to take care of ourselves in times of disaster. When we are confident in our own family’s safety and well being, we are better able to reach out and assist others.

Make sure you have a “Family Disaster Plan,” that you have disaster supplies at home to provide for your family and pets for at least 3-5 days, that you have a disaster kit in your workplace and in your cars and never allow your gas tank to fall below half a tank. Find out your employer’s disaster plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place and how you will be contacted after an event. Contact your local fire service and inquire about Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams (NERT) in your area.  If they do not exist, ask about training and how you can form one. You can also visit the American Red Cross web page and enroll in their emergency preparedness classes.

Eden Medical Center and Sutter Health continuously prepare to respond to disasters, and we work closely with Alameda County Public Health and other health care and emergency services partners.  Our coordinated efforts greatly improve our ability to provide for the healthcare needs of our community. I’ll write more about how we prepare for disasters at Eden and within the community to ensure we are here when you need us most.

“It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to produce spectacular results.”  – Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame Football Player

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

Planning Is Underway for Transition to New Hospital

by George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center


Although we are still nearly two years away from moving into the new hospital, teams of employees and physicians have already started planning for the transition to the new building. We call the move a “transition” rather than a move, because it’s a process that involves bringing with us good practices, good people and good programs, while entering a new era of health care. Not only will patients be treated in a new environment, but that environment and the people that provide services will do so with state-of-the-art equipment and support systems that will make care more efficient, and in surroundings that are focused on the comfort and safety for our patients and their families.

Our “transition teams” include our managers, physicians and employees from every department in the hospital. When I think of the journey ahead, I find myself thinking about the people who will make this a reality. Healthcare people work well with uncertainty, with making sense of the challenge of illness and injury and finding the right course of action that results in healing. Caregivers face this every day with patients. We are fortunate to have a great team of people who are passionate about their work and committed to making this transition the best possible experience for everyone involved.

While 2013 seems like a long time away, it is so short when you look at the level of detail involved in transitioning to a new hospital. It’s a monumental task that cannot even be described well in a simple blog post. So, we will break it down into smaller, easier to digest, pieces as time goes on. It will both informative and comforting for all to know the level of effort both necessary and desired to make sure this is done right. It will involve everything from testing equipment and systems to rehearsing the actual move of patients on that one day not too long from now. There is much to be done and we’re both excited and challenged by the task at hand.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress and look forward to your comments.

Straight Talk from the CEO
By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center


Since the early stages of planning to replace Eden Medical Center, there’s been a lingering question on people’s minds: what name will the new hospital carry? All of the initial planning and building documents have used the name Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley, and the reference has stayed with us through construction and even on this blog site.

We were well aware that many people in the community, and certainly within the Eden family itself, were disappointed at the prospect of losing the original name

The name Eden has been connected with the hospital since it opened in 1954 has come to mean so much for the thousands of people who have been treated here for illness and injury, who delighted at the birth of a child or participated in our events and classes. For the thousands of employees, physicians and volunteers here, the name Eden is as familiar as family..

So, today I am pleased to tell you that the name will continue. Eden Medical Center will be the name of the new hospital when it opens.

I share in the excitement of this conclusion, because of what it has meant and continues to mean to our community. There is a history here that cannot and will not be erased, and a legacy will be passed on to future generations to continue the excellent and compassionate care that you have come to expect.

Photos courtesy of DPR Construction


Work is continuing quickly on the exterior of the new hospital. The pre-cast panels and curtain walls are the most prominent features, while the metal panel installation along the lower part of the building begins this week. The building is taking on a new look as crews work to ensure a water-tight building by year’s end and before the major winter storms. Great “Indian Summer” weather in the Bay Area and rigorous planning by the Project Team keep the project on schedule.

While the outward view of the new hospital is changing dramatically with each new day, there are teams of contractors throughout the building and grounds making progress in areas not so visible to the public. What else is happening around the construction site?

  • Framing and drywall installation n the first floor
  • Installation of punch windows on the second floor
  • Installation of pipe hangers, fire protection piping, plumbing pipe, electrical conduit and framing walls on the first and lower floors
  • Installation of the podium roof on the third floor
  • Layout of all the walls on the 6th floor
  • Installation of waste vent piping on the third floor
  • Underground utility work in the Lake Chabot parking lot


Picture 1 of 13

And behind the scenes, Eden Medical Center leaders and staff are mobilizing for transition planning, looking at every detail of what it will take to move into the new hospital in two years. It’s never to early to plan such a major undertaking!

Watch for video coverage of the interior progress, coming soon.

by George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center


A recent article about the new hospital construction asked readers the question, “Is the hospital too lavish, or is the new hospital just a reflection of modern times?” The reason the question was raised, from what I can gather, is because the new hospital will have all private rooms. This is a marked difference from our 1950s-era hospital that has mostly two-bed and some four-bed wards, shared bathrooms and a curtain for privacy.

When we began designing the new hospital, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was whether or not there would be all private rooms. It wasn’t a long discussion, and the answer was quickly determined to be yes.

The existing hospital, with its multi-bed rooms, is how hospitals were designed in the late 1940’s and early 1950s when Eden Hospital first opened. Sixty years later, the thinking regarding rooming of patients has evolved, just as every other aspect of hospital medical care has evolved.

There are compelling clinical reasons why hospitals across the country are converting to private rooms. Highest among these reasons is infection control. One can pick up any magazine or medical journal and read about the growth of bacterial adaptation to antibiotics over the past decade. In hospitals, there is an ever-increasing need to isolate infectious conditions that create a risk for other patients. Any such high risk patient requires a private room for better management of their illness and also for the safety of other patients and protection of hospital staff. This happens daily in our hospital, and it means that a two-bed ward then becomes a private room, decreasing the number of actual beds available for use. (See previous articles about the effects on comfort, efficiency and increased capacity.)

There are equally significant social needs for private rooms. Patients who are critically ill, injured or at the end of life often have many family and friends who want and need to visit for extended times. It is appropriate that these patients have privacy for the comfort of the family as well as for other patients and visitors.

Privacy and comfort are also compelling reasons for private rooms. Federal regulations to protect a patient’s privacy have changed how we design interiors and how we communicate with patients and other caregivers. But aside from being a regulatory requirement, privacy is a practical consideration every patient should have. This is very challenging to maintain in a room with two or more patients who are separated by nothing more than a thin curtain. In fact, across the country, the demand for private rooms isn’t driven by the perception of “luxury,” but by the need for privacy, dignity and respect.

There seems to be an outdated and misguided view that a private room is only for VIPs, those who can pay more, or those looking for luxury accommodations. There was a time when this may have been the case, but it is no longer true. At Eden, there is no added cost burden to a patient in a private room. And when the new hospital opens, there will be no fee or increased cost to any patient to be in a private room.

I can fairly assume that those who raise a concern about all private rooms have not been hospitalized themselves, or have never experienced a loved one at end of life in a patient room with one or more other patients. In talking with patients and families in the hospital, I have never been told that the single room was not preferred. It’s clear that people prefer privacy (see Washington Post article).

Our patients will benefit, and I believe they will be much happier as a result of the new hospital having all private rooms.

by George Bischalaney
President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

One year later: the hospital is taking shape

The first of this month marked one year since the celebratory groundbreaking for construction of the new hospital in Castro Valley. Passing this one-year milestone is worthy of a little reflection on the long journey to get here.

The concept of a new hospital first surfaced in the late 1990s, brought about by legislation created as a result of the Northridge earthquake that damaged several hospitals to the point that patients and staff were endangered and operations were curtailed. In California, and perhaps more so in the Bay Area, such a danger needed to be remedied.

Stimulated by the new State requirements, Eden Medical Center soon came to the conclusion that a replacement facility was a much better long-term investment for the community than complex and costly repairs and retrofitting. With the building being nearly 50 years old at the time, and the delivery of hospital services dramatically changed from the 1950s when Eden Hospital was originally designed, it was the easy decision to make. Financing the project was another matter.

Gratefully, the commitment of Sutter Health allows us to be where we are today. After many years of planning, with stops and starts in trying to find the right plan, the right place, the right size at the right cost, our new hospital project was funded, and site work began right away.

Our goal remains to have the new hospital open by 2013 in order to meet Claifornia seismic safety requirements. It will be a remarkable building itself, an icon on the hill in Castro Valley that will be a source of pride for the entire area. More important, it will be here to take care of people when they need it most, and certainly when that long-anticipated earthquake strikes the Bay Area, perhaps on our own Hayward Fault. While hoping that never occurs, we will be ready and capable of safely continuing care for our community.

Our hospital construction project has passed the one-year mark since the groundbreaking ceremony on July 1, 2009. The project has progressed rapidly in that time, just as work behind the scenes has progressed to plan for the programs, services and technology for the new building.

A significant effort is underway to involve the employees, volunteers, physicians and community in supporting the new hospital through philanthropy. We sat down with Jack Alotto, president of the Eden Medical Center Foundation, to find out more about their fund-raising efforts.

Why philanthropy?
Philanthropy is a way for the public to invest in our new hospital. And we take that investment seriously. The Foundation represents a unique stakeholder in the new hospital. Our donors are our shareholders, so to speak, and they tell us how they want us to invest their money. We give them that right.  No matter what amount they give, they tell us where they want that money to go, whether for Trauma Services or Neuroscience or any other program, service or equipment.

Philanthropy enables a broad section of community to have a partnership stake in a new facility. In other words, here is Sutter Health giving, in essence, a gift to the community by funding $320 million for its construction. And now the community can partner with Sutter Health to bring that gift to life, to direct funds programs and services that the community decides it needs. In this way, philanthropy unites Sutter Health with the community to meet the community’s health care needs. That’s an exciting thing to do.

What is the Foundation’s role in making the new hospital a reality?
We have pledged $12.8 million toward equipment and technology in the new building. All of that money is going to advance patient care. That’s our goal, and that is our board’s pledge to hospital administration.

It is very important to me that we get more and more people involved at whatever level they are comfortable, whether it’s the Eden Hospital Auxiliary recent donation of $500,000 or a $20 gift from a grateful patient. We are all a part of this effort.

Right now, the People of Eden – the leaders, the physicians, the employees – have already pledged more than $1 million. The most gratifying part of my work is meeting with employees, seeing the commitment and personal support for the care we give. Every one of Eden’s leaders has already made a gift, and I would love to see 100% commitment from the employees and physicians as well. Our employees can inspire the community to invest as well, so we will all have a say in the hospital’s future.

Where can we learn more about the Eden Medical Center Foundation?
You can visit us on the hospital Website, call us at (510) 889-5033, or we can meet with groups and individuals to explore how to become a partner in care.

by George Bischalaney, President & CEO

NursesWeek2010-logo-smEvery year on this date, May 6, we celebrate the good work of our nurses as part of National Nurses Week, a time set aside to raise awareness of the value of nursing and help educate the public about the role nurses play in meeting the health care needs of the American people.

At Eden Medical Center, we have nearly 700 registered nurses working at our Eden and San Leandro campuses. These amazing people aren’t just faces in a crowd or numbers on a chart. These are men and women who are called to a career of caring for others. In their own lives, they are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, family caregivers, coaches. Here at Eden Medical Center, they are heroes.

My office is located on the first floor of Eden Medical Center, just across the hallway from the Intensive Care Unit waiting room. Every day I am here, I see families concerned about the well-being of their loved ones. Some are encouraged, some are grieving, some stop to talk about their experience at out hospital. And I never take for granted the fact that every person has entrusted their lives to our caregivers.  I take comfort that the men and women who are caring for our patients, in any area of our hospitals, are skilled, compassionate people who want the very best for our patients and families.

So, on this day, I want to take pause and thank our nurses for all they do. Their work is never easy. It is complex, highly detailed, often exhausting, and so critical to the lives around them. They have a sense of purpose and a capacity for caring that drives them to give of themselves every day. What a remarkable calling.

Thank you, to all of our nurses, for all that you do for us.

Topping Off Ceremony Celebrates the Achievements of the Construction Teams

Workers shake hands at teh top of the structural steel following placement of the signed beam

Workers shake hands at teh top of the structural steel following placement of the signed beam

For the past week, the sun was shining brightly as Eden Medical Center employees, physicians, volunteers, patients and community members stopped at the construction site to sign the celebratory steel beam. The construction teams were on site working in perfect weather to keep the construction project on pace. At the end of each day, many took the opportunity to add their signatures to the crossbeam that would be hoisted to fit in the last spot at the highest structural point of the steel structure.

By Tuesday morning, the rain and wind returned, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of everyone who gathered for to mark the special occasion. About 200 people gathered under cover of the parking garage to congratulate the construction teams, sign the beam and cheer as the beam was lifted into place.

The American flag was paced atop the beam prior to liftoff

The American flag was paced atop the beam prior to liftoff

As is the tradition in the construction industry, the Topping Off Ceremony marks the moment when the highest structural point in the building construction has been attained. The last steel beam is signed and hoisted into place. An evergreen tree and US flag are placed on the beam to symbolize that the building project has proceeded well, with a clean safety record, and to bring good fortune to the future inhabitants of the building.

Eden Anesthesiologist Dr. Frank Rico, former EMC board member, checks out the signatures after adding his name to the beam

Eden Anesthesiologist Dr. Frank Rico, former EMC board member, checks out the signatures after adding his name to the beam

Eden Medical Center CEO George Bischalaney welcomed the crowd and thanked them for supporting the efforts. He stated that this milestone was as significant to the community as it was to the construction teams, as the dream of a new hospital becomes reality. DPR Construction executive George Hurley thanked the steelworkers and every contractor on the job for their great work, and commended Sutter Health Project Director Digby Christian for keeping the project moving forward.

We’ll post more information about the trades and the next steps in the project soon.  Let us know if you have questions or comments for any member of the Project Team.

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