Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center

by Jeffrey W. Wright, Heliplanners, Aviation Planning Consultants

Heliplanners is proud to have been involved with the replacement hospital project at Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley. One of the first items in this major project was to relocate the existing at-grade helistop (helicopter landing area) to make room for construction of the new hospital building. Heliplanners was brought on board to assist the overall project team with the site selection, planning, design and permitting for the new helistop.

The selected site provides ready access to the Emergency Department while meeting all aviation design criteria including the all-important airspace obstruction-clearance criteria. The site presented some challenges to build in an area that will be used throughout construction, and then link to the new hospital once it opens in 2013. We had to take into consideration the airspace clearance, existing structures, ongoing construction and most direct access to the Trauma Center. The first step was for the construction crews to prepare the site, which was to grade a small hill just 150 feet from the existing location.


With a nod toward overall community disaster preparedness, the new helistop is designed to accommodate aircraft as large as the Sikorsky Blackhawk, which is used by most military branches including the Coast Guard and National Guard. This allows the Medical Center to accommodate that helicopter for disaster relief in event of a major earthquake, wildfire, terrorist attack, airline or train accident, etc. Of course, the typical patient transports would be provided with much smaller helicopters locally by REACH, CALSTAR, Stanford LifeFlight and CHP.

Heliplanners assisted Sutter Health‘s project team by providing liaison and permitting assistance with the Federal Aviation Administration, Caltrans Division of Aeronautics and the Alameda County Airport Land Use Commission. We also assisted the project team with countless details related to construction of the helistop to ensure that, when completed, it would qualify for the Heliport Permit issued by Caltrans Division of Aeronautics during its final inspection. Caltrans inspected the helistop and issued the permit on October 27, 2009. 

Heliplanners, based in Temecula, California, has assisted hospital, law enforcement, fire department and corporate clients with heliport development throughout the United States since 1987. In that time, we have been involved with well over 125 heliport projects in over 20 states. We congratulate Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley on the excellence of its approach to the entire hospital reconstruction project, providing a state-of-the-art medical center for Castro Valley residents.

Photos courtesy of DPR Construction.

It’s been a busy week since the opening of the new helipad site on October 28. Construction continued right through the ceremony and is in full swing again this week. Here are a few highlights, with more to come!

Crews complete the rebar installation and formwork in preparation of the concrete pour for the lower foundation.

Crews complete the rebar installation and formwork in preparation of the concrete pour for the lower foundation.

Installation of the fire road retaining wall.

Installation of the fire road retaining wall.

The former helipad was demolished October 29 in just three hours, giving access to the full footprint of the new building and beginning work on the rest of the foundation.

The former helipad was demolished October 29 in just three hours, giving access to the full footprint of the new building and beginning work on the rest of the foundation.


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.

Work continues this week after a couple of rain delays. Crews are still on target to open the newly relocated helipad on October 28, while work to secure the footings for the foundation keeps moving ahead.

Pouring the concrete

Pouring the concrete

Concrete pour for the helipad ramp

Concrete pour for the helipad ramp

Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

The upgrade of our Website is now complete, and we are back with more news and information with a renewed vigor. These past two months have seen a bit of a slowdown on our posts and social media program due to summer vacations and transitions here, but we are up and running again — and even more dedicated to making this site informative and useful to our staff, patients, neighbors, community and ever-growing network of friends.  If you haven’t yet taken the time to subscribe to our site, I encourage you to do so now. You will receive a notice only when new updates are provided, and we won’t inundate you with e-mails nor solicitations.

The Eden Campus has been alive with activity since we broke ground on July 1. Because of the tremendous progress, we have launched our “Photos of the Week” to complement the WebCam and give you a bit more detail on what the crews are working on.

Below are a few highlights:

Foundation Piers
The crews are continuing to drill and pour the foundation piers, the first phase of the new hospital’s foundation. What does it take for a hospital of this size? Crews will pour 570 piers altogether, some reaching 60 feet underground. They are moving at a rapid pace now, drilling and pouring 10 to 12 piers each work day. Once these are complete — although some work is done concurrently to prep the site — crews will begin work on the underground utilities such as electricity, sewer lines, storm drains and plumbing. They are also beginning installation of the grade beam rebar, and the photo below shows the site excavation and prep work for the rebar.


Temporary Pedestrian Bridge
While work is being done on the site, the current pedestrain bridge will need to shut down. To provide uninterrupted access from the parking garage to the hospital, the crews must build a temporary pedestrain bridge. One the land was excavated, crews placed the braces/beams and began the sheathing of the bridge.



Storm Drain and Fire Road
A new wall is almost complete on the north end of the site, and crews began work on the storm drain. A fire road is also under construction, and this past week the crews continued installation of the fire road retaining wall.



These are just a few highlights of the vast amount of work underway on site. We’ll have DPR Construction, the general contractor, provide more detail on the many phases of the construction.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you.

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.

Campus View from Main Entry

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

After what has seemed like a very long journey, we now have permits in hand, and contractors have already mobilized on the Eden Medical Center campus to get it ready for construction of the highly anticipated new hospital. We want to keep you informed about the project, and let you know what you can expect in the next week and throughout the month of July.

Fencing around the perimeter of the construction area is almost complete! The fencing goes along our property line on Stanton Avenue, through our campus, and along the adjacent apartment buildings. We are also installing a gate at one of our Stanton Avenue entrances to limit access to the area only to construction vehicles.

Tree stump removal on the future helipad site will begin later this week.  The new site is approximately 150 feet north of the present location, as close as possible to the Eden Medical Trauma Center. Two days have been allocated for this work. Grading of the new helipad site will begin as early as June 26th, and will take up to three weeks to complete.

Demolition of the vacant Pine Cone Apartments on Stanton Avenue will begin July 1st. The structure will be demolished in one day, and it will take about two full weeks to break down and remove the debris.

Hours of work will be from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, but is subject to change as work moves into subsequent phases.  We will keep you posted on construction schedules.

The Alameda County Fire Department has requested use of the vacant Pine Cone Apartment building for training purposes on June 29 and 30, prior to demolition. Firefighters in training often use vacant buildings to practice search, rescue and simulated fire control.  You will see firefighters on site on these dates, using smoke generators (no real fire) and equipment. Their life-saving work is a benefit to the community and we are proud to support their efforts.

If you have any questions or concerns about the preparation phase of construction, please comment on our blog, and we will respond promptly.

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