Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen (right) tours the future Dignity Health hospital's site with Phyllis Baltz, president of Dignity Health’s Methodist Hospital of Sacramento.

Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen on March 24 joined Phyllis Baltz, president of Dignity Health’s Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, on a tour of the open field that is set to become the location of Elk Grove’s first hospital.

This $320 million facility will be built on Dignity’s 28-acre medical campus on Wymark Drive, south of Elk Grove Boulevard. The project will replace the current, 48-year-old Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, which is located near Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.

Baltz told the Citizen that the project is on pace to have a groundbreaking anytime from late 2023 to sometime in 2024.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” she said. “We remain on our critical path. Our goal is to open the new facility by 2026 or 2027.”

Baltz emphasized that this facility will become the city’s first hospital.

“We are going to bring the first hospital to Elk Grove,” she said. “It’s a tremendous investment in the community. Health care is vital to the fabric of any growing city, like Elk Grove is.”

Following the tour, Singh-Allen also referred to the city’s “first hospital.”

“We had a chance to tour the future location of Elk Grove’s first hospital,” she said. “I think that’s very important to emphasize that (point).

“They do intend to break ground soon. And the hospital – which I trally located and serve the health care needs of our community.”

Less than two months before Singh-Allen’s tour of the property, California Northstate University (CNU) had been promoting its own plan to build Elk Grove’s first hospital in the Stonelake community.

But many people, including members of a community group opposed to the site of the project, questioned that timeline.

Ultimately, one of the project’s consultants announced in February that CNU’s plan to have their proposed, 13-story Elk Grove hospital built by November 2022 could not be met.

The controversial project was opposed by environmental groups concerned about having such a large structure built near the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Neighbors and business owners also protested the large hospital’s location.

The Elk Grove Planning Commission rejected the proposed project plan on Feb. 18.

That denial, which was based on the project’s location within a 200-year floodplain, led to CNU shifting its attention from Elk Grove to the possibility of having their hospital built in Rancho Cordova.

Although CNU has turned its attention to Rancho Cordova for the future location of their teaching hospital, Singh-Allen noted that there are still opportunities for the university to build a hospital in Elk Grove.

“Elk Grove is going to continue to grow, and even as it relates to the other hospital, with CNU, there’s plenty of opportunities here in Elk Grove, if they choose to invest,” she said.

“They will have to make the best decisions for themselves, but we have alternative locations that will suit their needs, and then also continue to provide health care service to our residents.”

Singh-Allen told the Citizen that it is important to her to clear up any uncertainties regarding future hospitals in Elk Grove.

“I know that there’s a lot of uncertainty in Elk Grove in terms of are we getting a hospital, and all of that,” she said. “And it was important to me to be here (at Dignity’s future hospital site), with Phyllis Baltz, because one, they have gone through the entire entitlement process and we are just waiting (for) state approvals and some other checklists that they have to go through.

“But they’re ready to break ground real soon and serve the needs of our community.”

Singh-Allen added that Dignity was not able to give a specific date for their groundbreaking, because, for one, they must obtain construction document approval from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).

As for the importance of having a hospital in Elk Grove, Singh-Allen noted that this need is “great.”

“Absolutely, there’s a great need, because currently to get emergency care services, we have to go to south Sacramento,” she said. “Having Dignity Health right here, centrally located, it’s going to help save lives and cut down on how long it takes from going from your house – either in an ambulance or directly – to receive emergency care services.”

Singh-Allen also told the Citizen that she was pleased to learn that Dignity’s future hospital in Elk Grove will be a teaching hospital.

“What that means to me is it’s going to help train our doctors with hands-on patient care experience, using the latest technology in medicine,” she said.

As for future jobs through the Dignity Health Elk Grove hospital project, Singh-Allen recognized the importance of both construction jobs and the jobs of those who will work in the hospital.

“I think that those (jobs) are all win-win for our community,” she said.

Baltz told the Citizen that Dignity’s progress with its Elk Grove hospital project includes being currently ready to select a design-build firm.

“That firm helps us develop the construction documents for our planned hospital,” she said. “Most likely, it takes about a year to develop your construction documents and then they’re submitted to OSHPD. And it’s one to two years, most typically, for a review and approval process.”

As for the project itself, Baltz mentioned that plans call for the hospital to initially include about 100 beds, an emergency department, acute care services, and flexible care space for observation patient and outpatient services.

“It will be state-of-the-art, all-private rooms designed with the thought of a healing environment for our patients,” she said. “(The hospital) supports the efforts of the city of Elk Grove to be attractive to businesses, as well, and the continued growth of residents to know that (this) valuable resource is brought even closer to them, with all the growth to the south. And the timing just couldn’t be better for this (project).”

Baltz added that the current project represents the first phase of an overall hospital project, which has the entitlements to eventually expand to become a facility with as many as 330 beds, as well as additional parking. Dignity is also entitled to add a second medical office building on the site, she noted.