GREENBRAE -- Marin General Hospital received a 10-year extension from the state for rebuilding a seismically sound facility that will move the completion date to 2030 instead of 2020 but will not prevent the hospital from seeking a $350 million bond measure this November as planned.
The rebuild of the 235-bed district hospital, estimated to cost roughly $500 million, will proceed essentially as proposed, but the hospital will now be afforded more flexibility with its design and building process, Jon Friedenberg, chief fund and business development officer, said.
"We view this as very good news," he said. "It gives us more flexibility. When you’re building a full-service, acute-care hospital next to an already open acute-care hospital, it presents some logistical challenges."
Mr. Friedenberg said Marin General was not at risk of missing the deadline, but the Marin Healthcare District, which owns the facility, had asked the state to review which category Marin General falls into, which in turn determines state-mandated deadlines for building earthquake-safe facilities.
Senate Bill 1953 mandates that all California hospitals must meet certain seismic standards. The deadlines have been extended numerous times, though, and have varied depending on whether the hospital is a community hospital, such as Marin General, or a children's hospital or academic center.
"What happened was that the state did an assessment of seismic strength of the building," Mr. Friedenberg said. The facility was found to be in stable enough condition to warrant a less urgent rebuild.
"We asked the state to review the information they had and see if they wanted to keep us in the 2020 or 2030 category. Based on their review, they placed us in the 2030 category," Mr. Friedenberg said.
In order to finance the rebuild, the district will put a $350 million general obligation bond to Marin voters this coming November. The draft EIR is expected to be completed in May. Neither of those will change with the extension, Mr. Friedenberg said.
"What doesn't change is that Marin General needs to be rebuilt, and we need support from the voters," he said.
Even if the hospital didn't need to meet state seismic requirements, the facility is outdated and needs to be upgraded in order to offer the best care possible, a point that is made all the more important because it's the only trauma center in Marin County, Mr. Friedenberg said.
While the district views the development as positive, some may see less of an urgency to rebuild.
But Mr. Friedenberg downplayed that notion, emphasizing that the facility still needs to be modernized to include larger patient rooms and a larger operating room, all of which will enhance patient satisfaction and improve care.
The cost of the rebuild likely will not change, but it will make planning easier for the construction teams, who will be able to better phase the project rather than race to meet the original deadline of 2020.
"The fundamentals don't change," Mr. Friedenberg said. "It's a state imposed deadline that has been moved to give us more time, and that's a good thing."