Kaiser tower hits milestone toward October opening

50 new beds, private rooms, larger emergency, intensive care facilities

[caption id="attachment_21768" align="alignright" width="312" caption="Photo courtesy of TLCD Architecture "][/caption]

SANTA ROSA - The ambitious expansion at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center cleared a construction milestone, as major structural work has been completed by both the contractor and the architect.

The hospital has been granted a certificate of occupancy by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development at the new wing and five-story tower, meaning all that remains is furnishing the facility with the proper medical equipment and other interior design elements, said Carl Campbell, a spokesman for Kaiser.

The approximately 146,400-square-foot expansion is scheduled to be operational by Oct. 10 of this year, a goal that is expected to be met.

“Everything is basically done,” Mr. Campbell said, adding that the certificate of occupancy was granted within the last month. “That means we can get started in bringing the furniture and equipment. Major structural matters are complete.”

The project, which began in 2003, will double the number of beds in the emergency department, from 17 to 34, and in the intensive care unit, from 10 to 20 beds. All told, the number of licensed beds will increase from 117 to 167.

In addition to increasing the number of beds, the physical size of the emergency department will be more than doubled and will include a new turnaround for arriving ambulances, which will also have a separate, dedicated entrance.

Construction on the project was carried out by Sacramento-based contractor Harbison-Mahony-Higgins Builders Inc., and Santa Rosa-based TLCD Architecture was responsible for the design.

As of 2008, the total cost of the project was $233 million.

Jason Brabo, a principal with TLCD, which has a health care practice specialty area, said the project was among the largest in Sonoma County that he could recall, and it was the largest the firm has taken on.

“Of the various projects, this is the largest one we’ve done,” he said. “This [expansion] is just about doubling the size of the hospital.”

Mr. Brabo also said unique challenges are associated with expanding currently operating hospitals.

Both Mr. Brabo and hospital officials said much of the design elements in the new wing will vastly improve service to both patients and visitors in the emergency department given the increase in size of patient rooms and the waiting room. Staff in the new wing will also be able to work more efficiently, officials said.

“We very carefully designed it and tried to make it much easier for staff to access the patients,” Mr. Brabo said. “Simple things like having a counter or a sink nearby makes it a lot easier for staff. There’s distributed nursing stations. If the nurses are closer to patients, they’re more engaged in patients’ recovery. A lot of those concepts are put in, and they’re critically important.”

The new building will also house the hospital's first interventional radiology department, officials said.

The fifth floor of the tower will be left vacant but, if needed, will be able to accommodate about 24 beds.

The construction of the new tower included numerous green features as well, the hospital said, including recycling 775 tons out of 846 tons of total construction waste, using cotton insulation instead of fiberglass where feasible and the use of recycled ceramic floor tiles, among others.

All rooms in the new wing will be private and are significantly larger than older rooms. The hospital is also hoping that, upon moving into the new wing, rooms in the existing hospital will be able to become private as well.

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