Hospital construction projects are booming in the central San Joaquin Valley, from new pediatric specialty offices to cancer centers and medical office buildings.
Community Medical Center’s recent 200-acre land purchase at Highway 41 and Avenue 12 in Madera could also pave the way for a large medical campus.
It all adds up to more than $213 million in investment in new buildings and renovations of old spaces to accommodate growth, the need for medical services and to deliver health care in new ways across the Valley, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
The building boom doesn’t stop here. The Bay Area, Southern California and the Sacramento region are also spending millions on hospital projects, according to the state’s construction data.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth in our hospitals and our clinics, surgery centers – tremendous demand,” said Tim Joslin, chief executive officer of Community Medical Centers. “We were behind … we had a lot of catching up.”
Community Medical Centers, whose hospitals include Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital and Clovis Community Medical Center, is leading the construction explosion.
The hospital system has seen demand for its services grow – surgeries have nearly tripled since 2000, and hospital admissions are up 45 percent. In addition, Community Regional Medical Center pulls in patients from throughout the central San Joaquin Valley who need high-level trauma or burn care.
At Community Regional in downtown Fresno, a $60 million, 180,000-square-foot medical office building is about halfway finished at Fresno Street and Illinois Avenue. Most of the five-story building, which is slated to open early next year, will be devoted to pediatricians and specialists in the hospital’s new pediatric program.
We’ve seen tremendous growth in our hospitals and our clinics, surgery centers – tremendous demand.
Tim Joslin, chief executive officer of Community Medical Centers
In 2015, Community announced plans to join UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals to expand specialty services for children in Fresno, placing the healthcare network in competition with Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County.
Construction is already underway on a $34 million, seven-story employee parking garage on the west side of the hospital. The garage, which is expected to open in eight to 10 months, will increase parking at the downtown Fresno hospital by 40 percent. The hospital is also working on plans to build a 350-bed tower that could cost up to $600 million.
“You’re seeing short-term and significant projects happening, but also major expansion projects that are long term,” Joslin said.
The hospital projects are funded a variety of ways. Money comes from operating income generated by the health system, through bond financing, state funds and through private donations.
Clovis Community Medical Center started a massive expansion and renovation project in 2008 and is still growing. The hospital, in recent weeks, opened a $22 million, three-story medical office building. Under construction now next to Highway 168 is a $68 million, 100,000-square-foot cancer center that’s expected to open next summer.
Since 2000, surgeries at Community Medical Centers have increased 170 percent, hospital admissions increased 45 percent and births increased 15 percent.
The three-story cancer center combines services from Community Regional, the California Cancer Center and Clovis Community to provide cancer treatment of all kinds, the hospital said. It would also conduct cancer research in tandem with the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and become a “designated cancer center” by the National Cancer Institute. There are 10 designated centers in California, but none in the Valley.
Community is also planning for the future, which led it to buy 200 acres in Madera from the McCaffrey family of builders. The land is known for its iconic flag barn that was painted in patriotic colors after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. The barn will stay on the land until development plans are finalized.
“We’re looking forward to doing something like we did with Clovis a few decades ago,” Joslin said. “We bought the (Clovis) property before a lot of growth. Certainly you can see the tremendous need in Clovis today, and someday you’ll see the need in the Madera property.”
Community’s future campus down the road from Valley Children’s Hospital will no doubt mean competition, and that’s fine, said Todd Suntrapak, president and chief executive officer of the children’s hospital.
It doesn’t change the hospital’s commitment to provide care closer to where patients live. Valley Children’s is creating specialty care centers that families, no matter where they live, can access within 30 miles or 30 minutes from their homes.
The hospital, in a partnership with Adventist Health, broke ground March 24 on a $35 million, 46,000-square-foot specialty care center and 4.5-acre park near 10th and Fresno streets in Fowler. The center will house pediatric sub-specialists in areas like cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology and maternal fetal medical specialists.
“The greater the opportunity for access to pediatric specialty providers, the healthier the community is and healthier patients are,” Suntrapak said.
The greater the opportunity for access to pediatric specialty providers, the healthier the community is and healthier patients are.
Todd Suntrapak, president and chief executive officer, Valley Children’s Hospital
The building will be designed to let in a lot of light with a centralized registration desk, an organic grab-and-go food court, and multimedia education and interactive features for children. The park could host farmers markets, outdoor tai chi and yoga-type classes.
“We’d love to partner with an educational group, a community college or university to work with us bringing in that kind of experience, focus, training and wellness activity to the community,” Suntrapak said.
The hospital also plans to build similar centers in Bakersfield and Modesto by next year and is looking for properties now in Visalia and Merced. Unlike Fowler, these centers would be owned entirely by Valley Children’s. On Wednesday, the hospital announced that it had received a $500,000 donation from E.&J. Gallo Winery in Modesto to help build the Pelandale Specialty Care Center in north Modesto. A groundbreaking is planned May 20.
Former professional football player and Fresno State quarterback David Carr attended a groundbreaking Friday in Bakersfield for the Eagle Oaks Specialty Care Center. Carr and his brother, Derek, with their wives, are longtime hospital supporters.
The projects would be paid for through the hospital’s cash reserves.
“We’ve been very diligent and committed to being an efficient organization and a conservative one financially for the past two decades and have built up our reserves, really, for exactly this type of investment in our communities,” Suntrapak said. “We think what makes the most sense for us is not to carry debt and pay banks to borrow money and not to lease infrastructure and pay a landlord.”
Back in Madera, the hospital is exploring future projects to include more medical offices and an educational complex to support the more than 200 residents the hospital trains every year.
Saint Agnes Medical Center is collaborating with California Cancer Associates for Research and Excellence, an independent cancer group, to build a 65,000-square-foot outpatient cancer center at the northeast Fresno hospital.
Construction is expected to begin in the next several weeks, said hospital spokeswoman Kelley Sanchez. The plan is to renovate the existing center and add another 31,000 square feet. The center, to be named cCARE at Saint Agnes, would be managed by the cancer group. It will provide chemotherapy, research and clinical trials, radiation therapy, a physician dispensing program for oral oncology drugs, and a high-complexity medical lab.
Last week the hospital completed renovations on a new urgent care facility on campus and is working on a catheterization lab that can also serve as an operating room.
Adventist Health/Central Valley Network is expanding some of its hospital departments and specialty medical offices.
A six-bed intensive care unit is under construction at Adventist Medical Center – Selma that’s scheduled to be finished before the end of the year. Once that is complete, the emergency department will expand by seven beds. The Selma laboratory will also move into a bigger space in the hospital by the end of the year.
Lemoore Physical Therapy is moving into a bigger space in The Lemoore Plaza, 75 W. Hanford Armona Road, sometime in May. The Sleep Apnea Center, near the Hanford hospital, will undergo a building remodel.
In Visalia, Kaweah Delta Medical Center is expanding its emergency department from 33 to 66 beds.
The $32 million project will be done in stages, starting with an eight-bay “fast track” unit for sprains, minor lacerations, sore throats and similar health needs. At the same time, nine beds will be added to the emergency department in an unused area of the hospital’s Acequia wing, adjacent to the emergency department. Both projects will finish in May 2018.
In August, groundbreaking will take place for a 24-bed emergency department addition to be built on the site of a parking lot and finished in 2019.
The emergency department sees about 93,000 patients per year in a space designed for 58,000. The expansion will accommodate 120,000 patients per year, said Dan Allain, director of trauma, emergency and critical care.
Other major projects at Kaweah Delta include a neonatal care unit of 23 beds on the sixth floor of the Acequia wing and the addition of 24 medical and surgical beds on the fifth floor. Both floors will open in December 2018.
To fund the projects, the hospital issued $100 million in revenue bonds to be repaid from revenues from operations.
Meanwhile, the current main hospital on Mineral King Avenue cannot be used for standard patient care after 2030 and must be replaced with a new hospital that meets modern seismic standards, hospital officials said. It remains unclear how it would be funded. Last year, voters rejected a bond measure to build a new hospital.