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
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
Every 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.
by 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.
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.
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!