Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center
Governmental approvals

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.

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.

George Bischalaney, President and CEO, Eden Medical Center

By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your continued support of the new hospital.

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call today!

Supervisor Nate Miley — 510-272-6694

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker — 510-272-6693

Supervisor Gail Steele — 510-272-6692

Supervisor Keith Carson — 510-272-6695

Supervisor Scott Haggerty — 510-272-6691

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting details:

Tuesday, May 12
1:00 p.m.

Board of Supervisors Meeting Chambers
1221 Oak Street, Oakland

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

Call your Supervisors today!

Supervisor Nate Miley — 510-272-6694

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker — 510-272-6693

Supervisor Gail Steele — 510-272-6692

Supervisor Keith Carson — 510-272-6695

Supervisor Scott Haggerty — 510-272-6691

Thank you for your continued support!

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

Main Entrance at Twilight

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

By Digby Christian, Project Team Leader

We are proud to tell you that on April 7, 2009, the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley (SMCCV) project team received the 2008 FIATECH CETI Award at the award gala held in Las Vegas.

FIATECH is an industry consortium within the building industry. Its primary mission is to get all the “players” involved in capital projects to adopt new ways of thinking and new technologies to deliver higher value for the funders and end-users of construction projects.

Here is why our team won the award…

As most of our readers know, California’s deadline for retrofitting or building earthquake-proof hospitals from scratch is 2013, less than four years from now. The hospital project in its current form was validated as viable in August 2007, and design work was authorized to start in October of that year, leaving us just over five years to have the building be ready and open for business. Typically, in California, it takes at least seven years for a project of this magnitude.

So the team had to throw out all historical concepts of how design is done and come together as a wide-ranging, multi-company team involving the owner, the designers and the builders, and transform the design and construction process to drive two years out of the schedule. The team is now on track to achieve just that and did it primarily by redesigning the design process in a rigorous and unrelenting fashion, so that it no longer bears any real resemblance to tradition!

If you are familiar with the classic design process, you’ll know that it’s typically abbreviated as “SD-DD-CD”: Schematic Design (broad concepts typically discussed and agreed to by the owner and the architect exclusively); Design Development (often a General Contractor might have some involvement in this); and Construction Drawings (some trades might be brought on board to inform how these are put together). Then, the work goes out to the building community and those companies develop what are known as Shop Drawings. These drawings show in detail how every little and large item in the building will be fabricated, i.e., the structural elements, including steel, metal, glass, concrete, etc.

On the SMCCV project, all of the people who typically are brought in at the end are already on board, and most of them have been on board since August 2007. By the time this project completes its approval process through the County and State we will already be at the Shop Drawing stage. The building is being designed for fabrication now, while the design approval process is underway.

While this concept has been discussed for the last few years within the industry, and parts of the above have been implemented on other projects, no project has implemented this concept as broadly and as deeply as the SMCCV project; certainly not on a project this large and this complex. It is one of the reasons our project won the FIATECH award!

The other primary reason we won the award is because of how thoroughly the building has been designed in three dimensions (as opposed to the typical two dimensional paper drawings we are used to seeing). There are many very attractive shots of 3D design that you can find on websites, and in trade magazines but you can’t tell if the designs are any good—all you know is they look “cool.” But on the SMCCV project, we bring the entire team together at least every two weeks to work through the coordination effort. It’s painstaking and difficult, but utterly critical to a successful outcome in a shorter timeframe.

What is not often understood outside the industry, and to some extent even within the industry, is that different design disciplines use different software, and they can’t see each other’s work in real time while they are designing. Each company has to either import a converted file of each other’s work or send both files to a third package, such as Autodesk Navisworks, to see both designs at the same time. So it’s all too easy to have a poorly coordinated, unbuildable, three dimensional design—no different in fact than having a poorly coordinated, unbuildable, two dimensional design.

In addition, we have focused the team on the larger goal of designing for fabrication rather than the industry convention of designing to produce the construction documentation, which is then coordinated by the construction team. The team’s goal to design for fabrication means we are swimming against the tide. We are allowing our companies to each use their own best-in-class software and then developing a process that allows a high level of coordination and constructability to ensure that what is being designed is actually what we will build.

The above might seem dry and technical; however, by a) having a multi-company team involving all the construction trades from day one; b) throwing out the baggage of a poor design process and starting from scratch to build a better one; and c) having a goal of designing for fabrication will allow us to build a new hospital on schedule, within budget, and without any last minute compromises on the finished product.

On the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project, we are breaking new ground ahead of any other project in the country in the way such projects are handled. That, in essence is the reason why the team that is building your hospital won the 2008 FIATECH CETI Award.

In addition to the Sutter Health project team, I want to personally thank The Devenney Group, DPR Construction, Capital Engineering, The Engineering Enterprise, TMAD Taylor & Gaines, GHAFARI Associates, J W McClenahan, Morrow Meadows, Superior Air Handling, MPS Project Management, Navigant Consulting, Greenwood & Moore Engineering, Herrick Steel, Otis Elevators, Strategic Project Solutions, Royal Glass, Clark Pacific, Candela, Sparling, and numerous other specialty trade vendors for making it possible to receive this award—and to meet our 2013 deadline!

For all you construction buffs, or for anyone who is interested, check out FIATECH at http://www.fiatech.org/.

I welcome your questions and comments!

revised-rendering-1-1.jpg

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


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