Queen of the Valley's $130 million wing awaits final approvalNAPA – St. Joseph Health System-owned Queen of the Valley Medical Center garnered final planning approval for its 72,370-square-foot expansion recently, and officials are on track to meet state seismic deadlines and earn LEED certification.

Provided state building approval comes in as planned, construction on the $130 million hospital wing could begin as soon as April. Though the LEED for health care rating system is still being finalized, specifications for the three-story surgery and intensive care unit are designed to meet draft standards of the program.

The project first submitted to city and county officials late last year received final site and engineering approval Aug. 20. Officials are now waiting for Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development design clearance, the final approval needed for groundbreaking.

“As with most hospitals, it makes more sense to build new than retrofit the current building,” said Queen Director of Construction Karen Vegas.

[caption id="attachment_15522" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Rendering of Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa"][/caption]

The center on the backside of the 21-acre campus will require the removal of a storage building and two small sheds as well as displace about 80 parking spaces, of which the hospital currently has extra capacity.

The project will move the hospital’s six-room surgery department from the main building. The new space will have the same number of surgery suites, but each will be about double the current size. The intensive care unit, which will move to the third floor of the new space, will expand to 20 from the current capacity of 16.

Some green considerations include creative use of windows and shades to curb energy use, bicycle accommodations, priority parking for energy-efficient and electric vehicles and selection of green building materials.

The U.S. Green Building Council has worked for several years with the Green Guide for Health Care to create a separate grading system and LEED certification for industry projects that face barriers to meeting general commercial building standards. Hospitals operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so energy needs are more difficult to mitigate. Also, the facilities' increased sensitivity to pollutants and stringent regulatory standards make some green designs and materials impossible to implement.

After delaying the rating system release twice, LEED has not indicated the exact roll-out date. The Green Guide does have a draft point system that was reviewed during two comment periods and piloted with about 115 construction projects.

The Napa hospital is slated for completion in 2012 in time for the 2013 state seismic safety deadline. The lab is the only department that still must be moved to comply with the pending deadline, and officials are still debating where to move the program.

All clinical services will have to be moved out of the oldest part of the hospital built in 1958 by 2030. Ms. Vegas said officials are still considering what to use the main building for in the interim and where services will move.

She said the campus does not have space for another new building and administration does not want to move services off campus. Officials would also like to revive plans to build a 4,000-square-foot heart center on campus. The project was initially slated to go where the new hospital wing will be built, but the space was too small.

“We do not have a solid plan yet for what to do with the main part of the hospital. We can only use it until 2030 so it doesn’t make sense to make a lot of changes. It also depends on if they make further legislative changes,” Ms. Vegas said.

St. Joseph will pay for about 75 percent of the building project, and soon the Queen of the Valley Medical Center Foundation will commence a capital campaign to pay for the rest. The facility is currently licensed for 191 beds.