Palomar Health Delivers on its Promise with “Hospital of the Future”
Escondido, Calif. – After nearly a decade of planning, design and construction, the new 288-bed Palomar Medical Center, one of the most technologically-advanced hospitals in the nation, is scheduled to open for patient care on Sunday, August 19, in northern San Diego County.
The opening of the 11-story “Hospital of the Future” will be a major milestone in the 64-year-old history of Palomar Health, California’s largest public health-care district and one of the largest such districts in the United States. For years, the new Palomar Medical Center was one of the largest hospital construction projects in the nation.
“Our goal was to create a uniquely flexible, future-oriented facility that would combine all of the principles that have been studied for many years to enhance the care and safety and well-being of patients and their families on one site, something that has not been effectively achieved on this scale anywhere in the country or the world,” says Palomar Health President and CEO Michael H. Covert. “We were looking to create what some call the “Fabled Hospital,” and it is a testament to the work of many people,” he adds.
The historic opening is scheduled to begin early Sunday when about 130 patients will be moved from the existing Palomar Medical Center in downtown Escondido to the new Palomar Medical Center at 2185 Citracado Parkway in western Escondido over a period of several hours. Eighteen ambulances will be used to travel the 3-plus miles distance, with each patient transfer taking about 45 to 60 minutes from bed to bed. By early afternoon, all transferred patients will be resting in their own spacious, private room at the new hospital.
“Above all else, our guiding principles are that each patient be moved safely and with dignity,” says Maria Sudak, R.N., director of Clinical Operations Improvement for Palomar Health. “We are planning and testing many scenarios to be prepared for every situation, and patients and family members will remain fully informed throughout the process.”
The new Emergency Department and Trauma Center will also be opening at the new hospital on August 19.
Palomar Health will support the news media in covering the opening but will balance that with the need to protect the privacy of patients and their family members and remain on schedule with the planned move. As a result, media access will be limited at both hospitals. Palomar Health has identified the hours between 10 a.m. and noon as the best times for media coverage and has scheduled a press briefing at 11 a.m. to discuss the historic opening and the day’s progress.
The opening of the new Palomar Medical Center will mark a new era in health care in the region and the delivery of a promise to the communities that the district serves. In 2004, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition BB, the $496-million bond that helped fund construction of the $956-million hospital.
“Palomar Health had a vision to forever change the way health care is provided, and the people we serve placed their trust in us to make it happen,” says Gerald Bracht, Chief Administrative Officer of the new Palomar Medical Center. “We are delivering on that promise by unveiling a world-class facility designed to transform the patient-care experience. The building is an architectural and technological masterpiece, but our outstanding staff will bring it to life and ultimately fulfill the vision.”
The new Palomar Medical Center will open as a licensed 288-bed acute care hospital, providing inpatient care, rehabilitation services, surgical and interventional services, and emergency and trauma services. It will eventually be built out to a maximum of 650 beds.
The 740,000-square-foot facility is the first new hospital in North County in more than 30 years. About 1,700 health-care providers and supporting staff will work at the new hospital, most of them transfers from the downtown facility. Staffing could eventually grow to more than 2,000.
The original Palomar Medical Center located at 555 East Valley Parkway will remain open under a new name, Palomar Health Downtown Campus, and will specialize in women’s, children’s, rehabilitation, behavioral health and minor injury/illness (urgent care) services. About 750 employees will initially staff the downtown facility.
The new Palomar Medical Center was designed to meet the current and future needs of the Inland North County District’s growing population. Early on, Palomar Health adopted the concept of sustainable and flexible health-care design, an innovative approach that has led to the creation of a hospital with a world-class healing environment.
“The new hospital is the best example of innovative design principles that will stand the test of time,” adds Bracht, who has been chief administrative officer at the original Palomar Medical Center since 2000.
Los Angeles-based CO Architects, a nationally-recognized architecture firm, designed the hospital building with significant input from physicians, staff and district leaders. The San Diego office of DPR Construction, a top general contractor in the country, managed construction.
Some of the key features in the new hospital include:
• Green wavy roof, natural lighting, sustainable materials. The 1.5-acre green roof on top of the surgical suites floor reduces heat reflectance and absorption inside the building. The roof garden was designed to imitate the surrounding hillside landscape and features large skylights and solar tubes that direct natural light into diagnostic and treatment areas below. Accessible outdoor terraces on every floor will put patients, their families and staff members closer to nature.
• Innovative technology. The new hospital will be able to adapt to future technologies and innovations. The advanced surgery and procedures department will house 11 operating rooms and four interventional radiology/cardiac catheterization suites. The floor was designed to allow the creation of larger or smaller operating rooms in the future- with significant opportunities to expand what will be one of the first true interventional platforms in the country.
• Expanded trauma and emergency services. The new Trauma Center and Emergency Department will feature larger than average treatment rooms and are equipped with state-of-the-art imaging and specialized clinical equipment, making it one of the most advanced emergency/trauma floors in the nation. A dedicated trauma elevator will deliver patients from the rooftop heliport to the operating room within seconds. The two trauma suites can be expanded for multiple trauma patients. The Emergency Department will have 48 treatment rooms, 15 more than currently available at the downtown hospital. In addition, there are six critical care treatment rooms and one orthopedic treatment room.
• All private patient rooms with flexibility. At 320 square feet, each patient room is divided into a staff zone, patient zone and hygiene zone. Centralized nursing stations have been eliminated in favor of distributed nursing or “alcove” workstations outside of every patient room. By working outside the patient room, nurses are closer to the bedside and able to respond more quickly to patient needs.
• Secure wireless network. Each work station is wired as a communications hub for maintaining electronic medical records, which will be accessible to physicians and staff through a secure wireless network, providing current and complete information about each patient. It has been designed to function even in the event of a power loss or natural disaster.
About Palomar Health
Palomar Health is the largest public health-care district by area in California and one of the largest in the United States. It is the most comprehensive health care delivery system in northern San Diego County. It is governed by a publicly-elected board of directors and its primary service area in Inland North San Diego County has more than 500,000 residents.
A Magnet® recognized health system, Palomar Health has several facilities, including hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Escondido and Poway as well as Palomar Health expresscare health centers in Escondido, Rancho Penasquitos, San Elijo Hills in San Marcos and Temecula in Riverside County.
Palomar Health provides medical services in virtually all fields of medicine, including primary care, heart care, emergency services, trauma, cancer, orthopedics, women’s health, rehabilitation, robotic surgery and bariatric surgery.