Monday, September 26, 2011

VacaValley Hospital to get $118 million makeover

VacaValley Hospital to get $118 million makeover

Will double number of beds; is precursor to trauma center plans

A rendering of the $118 million VacaValley Hospital expansion

VACAVILLE — VacaValley Hospital will soon undergo a $118 million renovation, a project that will double the size of the current hospital.

NorthBay Healthcare, which operates the 50-bed hospital and NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, is currently awaiting approval from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development on the planned improvements, which would add an additional 24 beds — 16 medical-surgery beds and eight intensive care unit beds — to the hospital.

All told, construction on the hospital would include two stories while adding roughly 68,000 square feet to the hospital, which will double its footprint, said Steve Huddleston, a spokesman for NorthBay Healthcare. Improvements include an expanded emergency department and a new MRI machine. About 13,500 current square feet of the hospital will be renovated, and four modern surgical suites will be added to the hospital. An upgrade to the central utility plan is also part of the project, as are additional parking areas.

“We don’t have enough beds and capacity in the system now,” he said.

Rendering of lobby

Hospitals across California are undergoing significant construction projects in order to meet state requirements mandated for seismic safety, but the facility upgrades in Vacaville are not a result of that, Mr. Huddleston said. Instead, the project is part of the health system’s strategic plan, defined two years ago, to open Solano County’s first trauma center. Just last week, the 132-bed facility in Fairfield received its level III trauma center designation.

“None of the issues are related to the seismic retrofitting,” Mr. Huddleston said. “There will be two new major services that are vascular and heart related.”

The plan for the trauma center initially called for the Fairfield hospital to obtain a level III designation, but to eventually move the trauma center to the 25-year-old Vacaville hospital, where it would apply for a level II designation.

But soon after NorthBay Healthcare announced its plans over a year ago, Kaiser Permanente’s Napa-Solano region said that it too intended on seeking a level II trauma center — at its Vacaville facility. Kaiser eventually amended its plan to seek a level III center in Vacaville, which it expects designation for by the end of October. In response to Kaiser’s plan, Mr. Huddleston has said NorthBay Healthcare would explore the possibility of keeping the trauma center in Fairfield.

There is no limit on how many level III trauma centers can be in a county, but state law says a county can have only one level II center, unless a specific exception is granted. Both NorthBay Healthcare and Kaiser have said they will likely seek level II designations at the respective facilities after a needs assessment is completed by the county to see if a such a center could be sustained.

The expansion at NorthBay Healthcare’s VacaValley Hospital will go ahead regardless of where the trauma center ends up, Mr. Huddleston said.

NorthBay Healthcare expects to break ground on the expansion in Vacaville by early 2012 and to have construction completed by early 2014, Mr. Huddleston said. Before any construction and before any financing can take place, OSHPD must approve of the plans. The health system is hoping for state approval by the end of this month so that it can begin with the financing.

All told, the health system will be seeking about $200 million in loans and bonds, but only $118 will account for the construction. The remainder of the loan will go toward refinancing existing debt. Once OSHPD signs off on the plans, the Federal Housing Authority, through its Hospital Mortgage Insurance Program, would be able to back the bonds, which would then guarantee a loan from Bank of America, Mr. Huddleston said.

DPR Construction, which has offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Redwood City and San Jose, has been selected as the general contractor. San Francisco-based WRNS Studio is the architect.