Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center
George Bischalaney

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.

by George Bischalaney,President & CEO, Eden Medical Center


Planning for the construction of the medical office building adjoining the new Eden Medical Center has started in earnest. While the hospital itself has been under construction for a year now, the medical office building project was staged to begin at a later time when, so that both buildings are complete and open at the same time in 2013.

The office building is anticipated to be four stories and provide more than 80,000 square feet of space to house physicians and some hospital staff and services. The building will be connected to the hospital at each of the four levels, providing quick access by providers and staff using the building through controlled access points.  The general public will have open access from the ground level.  We intentionally planned for some hospital support staff to be in the building. We want to preserve as much space in the hospital building itself for clinical space and patient needs.

Programming, or definition of specific spaces in the building, is now underway. This means defining space on each level by occupant and provider type. An important part of this planning is the space designated for the Urgent Care Center, which will be located on the ground floor of the office building and close to the future hospital Emergency Department. In addition to planning for the scope of care and space for the Urgent care Center, we need to designate the necessary support space and establish initial plans for how the center will work in conjunction with the Emergency Department when they open.

Throughout the planning process, there remains a commitment to provide the Urgent Care Center. Ideally, it will offer a faster, lower cost venue for non-emergent needs of patients. This is much needed in our community and definitely in line with national and regional health care reform principles.

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.


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.

georgeby George Bischalaney
President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

National health care reform is now apparently right around the corner. After years of discussion, and more recently, weeks of debate in the House of Representatives, legislative action is now in the hands of the Senate. If enacted, it will be the most significant health care legislation in decades.

As a provider, it is both welcomed and feared. Welcomed in that it will help bring insurance to millions of people for whom it is now out of reach. In making this possible, it creates the possibility of opening doors for routine health care services that should help prevent late diagnosis of disease, which becomes problematic and costly to treat. From our perspective as a hospital provider, better access should redirect many people who use our emergency departments as their primary care providers.

But change comes with a cost.
The mind-numbing price tag of reform is expected to be offset by future savings. In the short term, it will require shifting payments currently dedicated to the Medicare program.

Most hospital providers do not make a profit in caring for Medicare patients overall. There is no doubt that we need to drive inefficiencies out of the health care system in order to help address this issue. But that alone may not do it. When costs are rising at a rate of 4-8 percent per year and reimbursement is 3 percent or less, we are constantly falling behind. There are many reasons for escalating costs. Consider the constant introduction of new drugs, high tech and high-cost diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, and of course labor. Health care is a service business and 60% of hospital costs can be tied to salaries and benefits. The cost escalation of these items alone will keep us chasing the elusive break-even point. And once there, if achieved, there is still ongoing capital investment that is necessary to maintain the capabilities expected of community hospitals.

The final package is likely still months away. Even then, it will take time to analyze and truly understand the effects, positive and negative, of this landmark movement. We hope that the final outcome will have the proper balance, consider as much as possible all the consequences, and result in a healthier and more stable provider system.

I welcome your feedback.

By George Bischalaney, President & CEO

Among my mail is an envelope addressed to the CEO and marked “confidential.” It is handwritten, obviously not from a business partner or one who hopes to be. Someone has taken the time to write and make sure it gets read by me and not screened or redirected. It has my attention.

As I expected, it is a letter from an individual who wants to tell me about the care delivered to a family member. As I begin to read, there is a moment of apprehension. Will this be the grateful letter that praises the care of doctors, nurses and other staff members encountered during the stay? Or is this the letter that expresses concerns and expectations not met? Actually, I look forward to either. An individual in a position to assess our performance has taken the time to tell me about it.

I receive letters several times a week, and they are often the most instructive of a given day’s activity. Patients and their families have much to teach us about what we do and how we do it.

I am still surprised at how often it is the little things that make a difference. We put so much effort into providing the highest quality of care and avoiding mistakes that we often overlook the obvious. Those entrusted to our care need the human touch. A moment of compassion, a word of support, encouragement or just someone to listen can provide a sense of healing equal to many more clinical interactions in a patient’s mind. Letters rarely praise the well-placed IV or express gratitude for the timely administration of medication. What many patients remember are the kind words of the nurse, the cheerfulness of the dietary worker delivering the meal, or the respectful nature of the person who comes to clean the room.

There is much that we can do to improve the health care system in our country. Even as the debate continues, there is much that is working well – and it hasn’t been legislated. It is the commitment of countless individuals to go about their work with an understanding of the impact they can and do have on the people they care for. It is remembering the little things that help a patient through the day or a family member find relief in knowing that the caregivers are more than clinicians completing rounds and performing tasks. We create moments every day that will be remembered forever.

As I open the next letter, regardless of the message, I know it will help me remain connected to our purpose and be a reminder of what health care really needs.

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.

Employees enjoy the Groundbreaking Ceremony

By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

It’s finally begun! Twelve years of planning, ten years of actively working, and finally, ground was broken on Wednesday July 1, 2009, for the new hospital on the Eden Medical Center campus. It has been an extraordinary effort by so many to get us here. Persistence, patience and untiring efforts have paid off.

The first phase of work involves relocation of the helipad, a necessary step to clear the way for development of the hospital and medical office building. It will be challenging throughout and very difficult at times.

The immediate impact is loss of on-campus parking. Not a lot, but unfortunately in a place where it is needed. This work is occurring adjacent to the Emergency and Trauma Services entry points. Ambulance bays remain accessible and the existing helicopter landing site remains functional throughout this phase. Parking for patients and visitors is affected and will be relocated a couple of times as work progresses.

Already there is activity in other areas of the broader construction zone. An apartment building facing Stanton Avenue was reduced to rubble in a matter of two days. The neighborhood is experiencing the onset of three years of traffic associated with the project, as debris is removed and equipment and supplies arrive.

Work was temporarily interrupted and the worksite cleaned up for a brief but well received ceremonial groundbreaking event on July 1. Employees, physicians, the project team and Eden Medical Center as well as Sutter Health leadership officially christened the site with the photo-op tossing of dirt. It was an exciting moment for those who have waited to so long for this day.

As the work progresses, our official site for tracking the work will keep those who check in up to date. And coming July 20, there will even be a webcam for viewing the work as it proceeds.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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