Dignity Health’s future, $320 million hospital in Elk Grove will eliminate the current use of their south Sacramento hospital, revealed Phyllis Baltz, president of the hospital.
“(The hospital) would be a replacement for Methodist (Hospital),” she told the Citizen on Dec. 3. “It’s our mission to serve the community and be available to the residents of Elk Grove, so being able to replace our current hospital in (Sacramento) will honor that commitment and we’re very excited about that continued important role that we play in Elk Grove.”
The current Dignity Health Methodist Hospital of Sacramento at 7500 Hospital Drive, off Highway 99, near Cosumnes River College, opened in 1973.
Dignity intends to build the hospital on their 28-acre medical campus on Wymark Drive, south of Elk Grove Boulevard. Plans are to open the hospital within seven years.
A $35 million, 68,190-square-foot, three-story medical office building opened seven years ago on that property, which was purchased by Dignity – then known as Catholic Healthcare West – in 2008. An outpatient surgery center, physician practices and imaging services currently occupy that structure.
Beyond Dignity’s current hospital plan, their Elk Grove campus is designed for additional expansions to meet future health care needs of the community.
Baltz mentioned that, with the transferring of south Sacramento services to Elk Grove, Dignity will continue to own that property and decide how it will be used.
“There might be other purposes for the building, depending on seismic standards and what they would allow, but the acute care services would be relocated (to Elk Grove),” she said.
“There is a significant shortage of psychiatric beds in our community. That is a possibility (for the old building). There’s a possibility for expanding long-term care on skilled facilities, but we’ve not made a final determination.”
The old hospital will “most likely” be used for some type of Dignity Health services, Baltz added.
She also mentioned that the new hospital’s general service area will extend from south Sacramento to Galt.
As for when ground could be broken for the project, Baltz noted that it will take at least two years to get to that point.
Baltz added that gaining full approval for construction is a lengthy process, which includes significant planning and the creation of detailed construction drawings for the facility.
“Once those drawings are complete, they are submitted to OSHPD (the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) for approval of the construction documents,” she said. “For most hospitals throughout the state, that in and of itself can be up to a two- to three-year process with plan checks and revisions and such.
“So, you would do an official groundbreaking to actually break ground to start the construction upon the approval of those planning documents through the OSHPD.”
While Dignity Health works toward opening its Elk Grove hospital, California Northstate University (CNU) continues to adhere to its plan to open its own hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood in 2022. CNU’s project has not gained the city’s approval and the property would still need to be rezoned.
Baltz told the Citizen that she does not find that plan to be feasible.
“Based on our experience – we operate 40 hospitals throughout California – (and) based on the experience of other health systems that built projects locally and throughout the state, even at the point where you have entitlements, if you are still doing construction drawings and looking to submit those drawings to OSHPD, it’s a five- to seven-year process for a hospital for it to be opened,” she said.
Dignity’s business plan for a hospital in Elk Grove dates back to early 2010, and besides the required OSHPD approval, all necessary entitlements for their hospital have been granted.
Baltz noted that the timing is right for Dignity to build that hospital.
“Within our planning for new facilities, replacement facilities, what has happened with seismic standards throughout California, plus just the significant changes in the health care delivery system over the last decade has led us to the point where now it is the appropriate time to actually start the official completion of construction documents with the intent to build,” she said.
Baltz added that it will take about three years for the hospital to be constructed, and that Dignity will need to obtain licensing through the California Department of Public Health before operations at the hospital can begin.
In the meantime, Dignity representatives plan to meet with key stakeholders, elected officials and other city representatives to keep them up to date with the progress of their Elk Grove hospital project.
Baltz expressed Dignity’s excitement for their plan to open a hospital in Elk Grove.
“We’re very excited to bring a new hospital into Elk Grove to support the growth of that community,” she said.
Baltz added that about 1,250 full-time workers and about 400 affiliated medical staff will be employed in their Elk Grove hospital. She added that there will also be some future recruitment opportunities for positions at this facility.
Hospital’s unveiling event
With Dignity’s plan moving forward to build a hospital in Elk Grove, a community event will be held on Jan. 8. The gathering will occur in the mid-morning, and the time of the event will be announced in a future edition of the Citizen.
Baltz noted the purpose of the event, which will be held on Dignity’s Elk Grove campus at 8220 Wymark Drive.
“(It will feature) an announcement of our commitment to build a hospital in Elk Grove to serve the community,” she said. “We envision City Council members being present, invited elected officials, also interested community partners, planning commissioners, etcetera. (It will be) an unveiling, if you will, of our vision and thoughts for the facility to be built in Elk Grove.”