NorthBay Healthcare announces $200 million in upgrades across Solano County

FAIRFEILD -- NorthBay Healthcare, using the stage of a grand opening for its $20 million Green Valley Health Plaza, announced plans to begin major construction projects on its two hospital campuses in Fairfield and Vacaville that will total an additional $180 million.

[caption id="attachment_89150" align="alignleft" width="252"] Gary Passama, president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare[/caption]

The new construction will consist of significant upgrades to the system's 132-bed North Bay Medical Center in Fairfield, which will account for roughly $140 million, and another $40 million will go toward a new 105,000 square-foot medical office building on the campus of the 50-bed VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, said Gary Passama, president and CEO of independent Fairfield-based system.

The plans were announced as the health system celebrated the grand opening of its two-story, 37,000-square-foot Green Valley Health Plaza in Fairfield, a $20 million facility that over the last two years was transformed from administrative offices to now house a primary care clinic, hospice and bereavement, home health and gastroenterology services, Mr. Passama said. He added that the major expansion efforts should position NorthBay Healthcare as the premier medical center in Solano County.

“The landscape of health care, as everyone understands by now, is changing,” he said. “And we are changing with it. This is pretty special for us since it represents the continual growth of the only locally-owned, locally-governed health care system in Solano County that is open to all.

"I expect over the next two years that this will be the single largest investment in Solano County," he added.

The modernization and replacement of older sections of NorthBay's Fairfield hospital will take three to five years to complete, where up to $140 million will be spent to build a new 77,000 square-foot, three-story wing and a new lobby entrance. It will also nearly double the size of its emergency department, which will go from 19 bays to 32 bays at the level 3 trauma center.

Construction in Vacaville should begin first with the NorthBay VacaValley Hospital campus adding a new, state-of-the-art medical fitness center – a first for Solano County that is similar to Queen of the Valley's Synergy Medical Fitness Center in Napa.  The VacaValley campus will become home for the NorthBay Cancer Center, currently located in Fairfield, officials said. Officials have dubbed the campus as the Vacaville Health Village.

The projects at all three campuses reflect a stronger emphasis toward outpatient care versus inpatient hospitalizations, an accelerating trend throughout the health care industry that shifts non-emergency services away from the more costly hospital setting, as well as significant growth in patient volume for NorthBay, Mr. Passama said.

"At VacaValley, outpatient is growing very fast," he said. "We simply don't have room in Fairfield, so we decided to make VacaValley our main center of sophisticated outpatient services. There are more things you can do (on an outpatient basis). We're approaching 50 percent of our revenue for outpatient serves," he added.

In addition, the Fairfield hospital is facing seismic safety issues, like hospitals throughout the state, and faces a deadline of 2030 to reach state compliance, Mr. Passama sai.

In Fairfield, officials expect to break ground on the upgrade in late 2015. In addition to the expanded emergency department, which Mr. Passama said has steadily increased in volume since obtaining level 3 trauma designation two years ago, the upgrade will include room for six new surgical suites and two cardiac catheterization labs, relocation and modernization of the cafeteria. The first phase of construction includes a new lobby and public cafe at the entrance. The existing lobby will become part of the expanded emergency department.

Eventually, construction projects could total more than $400 million, Mr. Passama said.

“Know that this is only the first phase,” he said.  “When we eventually finish all construction, modernization and replacement of the older sections, it could exceed $400 million during the next decade or longer.”

The changes in Vacaville, which could break ground by October this year, will be the most dramatic, according to the health system. Approximately half of the campus will be devoted to outpatient and other services that no longer occur within a hospital setting.

[caption id="attachment_89151" align="alignright" width="360"] The medical fitness center will include swimming pools for therapy as well as exercise facilities[/caption]

In addition to the cancer center, the 105,000-square-foot complex will include a new diagnostic imaging center. The medical fitness center will be adjacent to the cancer center.

“Our vision for Vacaville includes a health village with approximately half of the campus devoted to services outside of the hospital,” Mr. Passama said. The complex could be open by the end of 2015 or early 2016.

Meanwhile back in Fairfield, the Green Valley Health Center, developed jointly with Denver-based NexCore Group, opened in February, also in response to increased demand in outpatient services and general growth for NorthBay.

It's now home to nine primary care physicians, and the building includes 6,400 square feet of shelved space that could accommodate additional services. There is also foom for two other buildings at the Green Valley campus.  

All three projects, Mr. Passama said, reflect NorthBay's expanding presence.

"The overarching motivation is we're growing very quickly," he told the Business Journal. "We've developed a lot of new services, and the North Bay Medical Center has been impacted. We need more space to accommodate more patients. We had our busiest year ever in 2013."

The Green Valley campus was constructed by Vacaville-based DPR Construction, which is also the contractor for the North Bay Medical Center in Fairfield. The architect for both Green Valley and Fairfield is San Francisco-based LBL Architecture. The contractor for the VacaValley campus is BN Builders of Redwood City.

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