In less than 36 hours, our Laurel Grove Hospital was completely demolished, leaving behind not just the debris for recycling, but also more than 45 years of memories.
My name is Bob Bosold, and I am the Project Director for Eden Medical Center. I’ve worked at Eden for 33 years, starting out as an engineer back in 1977. My career at Eden spans thousands of projects that define the buildings of Eden Medical Center. Early on I managed projects ranging from simple office designs and renovations to major expansions and development. Among them are the development of Baywood Court Retirement Community and the complete remodel of Laurel Grove Hospital back in 1990. More recently the renovation of the 6th floor Sutter East Bay Neuroscience Center and the Emergency Department.
Today, I manage projects on the hospital campus, including issues related to the new hospital construction. The demolition of Laurel Grove Hospital is perhaps one of the more bittersweet projects on campus. On the one hand, it symbolizes the progress of our new hospital. On the other, it means the end of a great facility that provided care for thousands of patients and was home to so many great employees. I was a patient at Laurel Grove following knee surgery five years ago, and the care I received was excellent. Yes, it was sad to see the old hospital go.
From a facilities perspective, the demolition of Laurel Grove was far more complex than the actual deconstruction photos show. Our last patient at Laurel Grove was discharged home in December 2009, and the final employee celebration was held December 30. From that moment on, our teams worked to identify and remove virtually every piece of equipment, furniture, fixture and countless other things people don’t even think about that support a hospital structure, such as boilers, propane and diesel fuel tanks, an emergency generator and air conditioning chiller.
Where Did It All Go?
While our patient care staff worked to transfer all patient records to Eden, our facilities team focused on assessing all of the equipment from the rooftop all the way down to the soil. We cleared out major rooms such as Radiology and the kitchen, and gathered the smallest of items found in desk drawers and cabinets. All equipment was identified and relocated according to areas of greatest need and value. In other words, some equipment was given new life where needed at Eden or San Leandro Hospital, or at another Sutter Health facility, or donated to another hospital or clinic in need. This by far was the most gratifying part of this project.
Some equipment was sold or stripped for parts for use where needed, but that represents a small percentage compared to what we were able to reuse or recycle. Although Laurel Grove looked small from the outside, it held a significant amount of furniture (hospital beds, tables, curtains, chairs), office equipment (desks, bookcases, filing cabinets) and supplies (wheelchairs, walkers, office supplies) and so much “stuff” in every room.
Fortunately, we found a home for almost everything. Our specialized LaserOptics equipment was donated to UC Berkeley Vision Sciences and their School of Ophthalmology. Physical and occupational therapy equipment, wheelchairs, walkers and related items were donated to Alameda County Medical Center and several other clinics. Much of our furniture, office supplies, cabinetry and kitchen equipment made its way to schools, clinics, local businesses and organizations including MedShare, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare through the redistribution of surplus medical supplies and equipment to developing countries. I would have to say that about 95 percent of the interior equipment was donated or used elsewhere. The rest was recycled along with the building (more on this later).
Once the abatement was complete and the connection between the hospital and adjacent medical office building was closed and remodeled and new walkways installed, the old hospital was torn down in less than two days. From the street, what is left looks like a big pile of rubble. But what is really happening behind the fence is amazing. Over the next two weeks, virtually every part of the building and site will be recycled: metals, woods, plastics, concrete, vegetation, landscape materials, all of it.
The metal is separated from the fiber by a large sorter on site. All the metal will be recycled, and the fiber material will be sent to Waste Management, where it will be used in composting and come back to life as, among other things, potting soil! Some of the material will find new life as colored bark that is used in gardens. And best of all, the concrete (including Laurel Grove’s foundation), will be ground up, set aside and later used as site fill on the new hospital site. Laurel Grove will live on.
Here is a quick look at how the materials are separated for recycling at the site:
By April 15, the Laurel Grove site will become a paved parking lot for the hundreds of contractors working on the project. Once the underground utilities are taken care of, the site will have new landscaping that will enhance the aesthetics of the neighborhood. The lot will remain parking for contractors throughout the entire building project, and will convert to employee parking in 2013.
A Time of Change
From my perspective, seeing the end of Laurel Grove Hospital comes with mixed emotions. Eden purchased Laurel Grove in 1986, and from that moment I was involved in expanding, remodeling and upgrading the entire facility. And so, many years later, I watched it come down. I feel a sense of pride in being involved in creating a good facility that provided care to so many people, and a sense of sadness in seeing it go. But I am also excited, knowing this is progress and we are making way for our new hospital.
One project ends, another begins. I spend a lot of time putting things up and making them work, and a lot of time taking them down and making them work as something else. That’s the nature of my work and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
I will write more on the recycling in my next post. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and questions.
By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center
Yesterday, one of Eden Medical Center’s neurosurgeons, Dr. Dickinson blogged about what’s in store for neuroscience at the new Sutter Castro Valley hospital. Coincidentally, Eden was also mentioned in an article in the AARP Bulletin on February 2, which it picked up from the Contra Costa Times.
The article basically said that the State of California through its Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) had released statewide data on “hospital death rates.” This data has been collected for some time and the most recent release includes data for 2007.
Eden was identified as having a “Better-Than-Average” rating for patients who undergo craniotomies, which is a procedure for removing brain tumors. The statewide average was 6.7%, while the rate at Eden was measured at 0.7%. We were one of 25 hospitals, among 400 hospitals statewide, with better than average results, and one of only three in the Bay Area. These results do not come about by accident or good fortune.
Eden has been a designated trauma center in Alameda County for over 20 years. The experience and training of our trauma center staff has helped strengthen the services we offer in surgery, critical care, diagnostics, rehabilitation and general medical care. The methods used by the trauma center surgical team have carried over to every patient treated at Eden.
Building upon the trauma center’s effectiveness and with the support of Sutter Health, Eden established the Sutter East Bay Neuroscience Center several years ago. One of the mainstays of these programs is neurosurgery (brain surgery). Eden is blessed with a core of very highly regarded and skilled neurosurgeons as part of its medical community. It is because of their expertise and our joint commitment to excellence in neurosciences that we have been able to have such outstanding results with this critically ill patient population.
OSHPD has a website with a link to all of the recently released data (go to www.oshpd.ca.gov and click on AHRQ). OSHPD points out that this data is risk adjusted, to ensure that all hospitals are treated fairly and that evidence suggests that high mortality may be associated with deficiencies in the quality of hospital care provided.
Public reporting of hospital data will become more common, and its use by consumers greater over time so that they can be better armed when making important decisions about where to seek their health care services.