Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center

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

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.

Traffic Alert!

The Lake Chabot Road entrance to the hospital’s parking garage was closed today to accommodate work on the underground utilities. Workers began early this morning to remove the driveway and dig the trench to reach the work areas.

The access to and from Lake Chabot Road from this site will remain closed the entire month of September.

Employees, physicians and visitors may access the garage from the hospital’s main campus driveway, adjacent to the Emergency Department.

Visitors may still park in the parking lots on the hospital campus, or in the parking garage with a pedestrian bridge located on the 5th level. Proceed with caution as more traffic is now directed to the main driveway.

We have Security posted to help ease confusion and direct traffic.

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.


From George Bischalaney, President & CEO of Eden Medical Center, to the employees, physicians and volunteers

The holiday season has been a time of joy and sharing as well as a time of reflection and appreciation for the many good things in our lives.  Our family and friends are cherished most. But more than ever, we are very grateful for what we have, especially when we see so many around us suffering due to the tumultuous economy and the accompanying insecurity and distress it brings. The ongoing charitable works of prominent local agencies and organizations have been stretched beyond their capacities as a direct result of the growing demands that far exceed available resources.

As we begin the new year, I want our employees, physicians and volunteers to know how grateful I am for your contributions to Eden Medical Center and San Leandro Hospital. It is your good work and strong commitment to our patients and one another that help us succeed. Our patients and their families benefit greatly by your compassion and kindness.  Regardless of what role you play at either campus of the medical center…each of us contributes, each of us makes a difference.

We have been through a lot of change this year and the cloud of uncertainty continues to hover over us. I am aware of how these changes impact you directly and indirectly. The closing of Laurel Grove Hospital at the end of 2009, the uncertainty of the future of San Leandro Hospital, and the reorganization of some of our departments within Sutter Health are having the most impact on us all. Through all of this, you have continued to give your best efforts.  You have also stayed focused on our mission and purpose, which is why we are here, to best serve our patients. This was proven in the awards and recognition our hospitals received in patient safety, quality of care, innovation, compassion and excellence.   And please remember, when I say our hospital received these accolades, it is you, the employees and physicians who deserve the credit. The hospital merely represents the collective efforts of you – the superb, caring, highly skilled and valued professionals – as it accepts these honors.

As we move into 2010, I encourage you to be true to yourself and to your goals.  Your mental, physical and spiritual health is as important to me as that of our patients. Be kind to yourself, your loved ones, your friends, your colleagues, and all those who you touch in some small or large way each day.   Maintaining a healthy balance in our lives helps us weather difficult times.

Nothing is accomplished unless we all support one another and work together.
Remember who we are…what we have been charged to accomplish… and why we will continue to succeed together in 2010.

by George Bischalaney, CEO, Eden Medical Center

The end of 2009 will also mark the closing of a landmark health care provider in Castro Valley. On December 31, our Laurel Grove Hospital will close its doors permanently. It is a milestone that evokes mixed feelings. On one hand, it means the end of a valued community service and place of recovery for many people. On the other, it signals progress in the construction of the new acute care hospital for Castro Valley, San Leandro, Hayward and surrounding communities.

Laurel Grove Hospital was first opened in the early ‘60s. It was established by community physicians who felt at the time that the neighboring Eden Hospital was not meeting their needs. This was not an unusual move even for the 1960s. Doctor’s Hospital in San Leandro, now San Leandro Hospital, got its start with the same motivation.

For many years, Laurel Grove Hospital was operated as for-profit hospital. It provided medical and surgical care for numerous patients and, at one time, an urgent care clinic as well. After several changes in ownership, the leadership of Eden Hospital and the Eden Township Hospital District approached the owners and negotiated the purchase of Laurel Grove. It became a part of Eden Hospital in 1986, and has remained a valuable component of services ever since.

In 1984, two years prior to the sale to Eden, the owners decided to open an acute rehabilitation service. It was a fledgling service when Eden acquired the facility, but the potential was obvious. Soon thereafter, and following a long-term plan for the hospital, services were gradually moved next door to Eden while Laurel Grove was renovated and dedicated for use as an acute rehabilitation hospital.

As we move into a new year, a new era for health care, we need to remember how we got here. Progress is built upon the work of those who precede us. From the citizens who had the foresight and courage to establish the hospital district to the physicians who established Laurel Grove Hospital with the conviction that something could be and needed to be better. I don’t know how many people were cared for over the years at Laurel Grove, but I do know that, since my own affiliation began in 1986, it has helped scores of individuals recover from crippling strokes, head injuries and orthopedic surgery. The acute rehabilitation program, and for a time the skilled nursing service, enabled thousands of people to build strength and return to the daily routines of life.

With the thousands of patients, are thousands of individual stories. Some sad, but most are joyful with endings of maximum recovery and ongoing lives. Many of these individuals have returned annually to Laurel Grove for a reunion day, where they met with the nurses, therapists and physicians who helped them get back their lives.

Within a few months, the Laurel Grove Hospital building will be completely removed. In spite of this, it will never be completely removed from the hearts and minds of those who worked there over the years, or the patients and families who received their loving and healing care.

It’s a moment of sadness for the loss, but also a time to be grateful for having this gift, this healing place within our midst for 40 + years. Thank you to all who made this possible. Your contributions are timeless, and the memories you made will last a lifetime, and beyond for the families of those you served so well.

Physicians, staff and volunteers gathered for a closing ceremony on December 30, 2009.

Physicians, staff and volunteers gathered for a closing ceremony on December 30, 2009.

Physicians, employees and patients of Laurel Grove Hospital are invited to join our Laurel Grove Hospital Alumni Facebook Group, where you can stay connected and share stories and photos.


The Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project reached another major milestone with the official opening of the newly relocated helicopter landing site today.The site received approval for use following the final state permit inspection earlier this week by the CalTrans Division of Aeronautics.

On Wednesday, October 28, a small group of staff, Foundation trustees and donors, board members, and contractors gathered to commemorate the milestone with a Dedication Ceremony conducted by Eden Medical Center chaplain, Rev. Al Valencia. Overlooking the site from the top of the parking garage, the crowd cheered as the final blessing was made. Moments later, CalStar landed its newest medical helicopter to more cheers, and the Trauma Team assembled for training. For several hours, staff members and flight crews from CalStar and Reach Air Medical Services conducted training to ensure safe and efficient transport of patients from the new site to the Trauma Room.

The opening of the helipad less than 4 months after the groundbreaking is a remarkable feat by every member of the Project Team. But crews are wasting no time, beginning work immediately to remove the landing site, the last structure remaining in the footprint for the building project. Crews can now focus on work on the entire foundation of the new hospital.

We’ll have more news from the experts about the new site and the latest medical helicopters that are quieter, safer and better for the environment.

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.

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