Valley Children’s Hospital could add operating rooms, improve its water system and put on a new roof if a statewide bond measure passes.
Prop. 4 on the Nov. 6 ballot would provide the Madera County hospital with $135 million in bond funds.
Valley Children’s needs to secure its water storage tanks to comply with 2030 seismic safety regulations, said CEO Todd Suntrapak. The improvements will be costly, he said. The hospital also needs to add operating rooms to accommodate an increased volume of patients. And making space for new operating rooms will require remodeling other areas of the hospital. “We’re talking about tens of thousands of square feet that need to be remodeled,” he said.
New operating rooms will be larger to fit an array of advanced imaging machines. The imaging equipment is necessary to provide the best patient care, but it’s expensive, Suntrapak said. “This bond will certainly help us to continue to invest in technology and the type of care that children will need.”
The Children’s Hospital Bond Act Fund also could help the 20-year-old hospital with a new roof, a project Suntrapak said will have to be done soon. “You can’t do the kind of stuff we do with a leaky roof.”
The measure authorizes the state to sell $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds for capital improvement projects at regional children’s hospitals and other public or private nonprofit hospitals that treat children with certain medical conditions who are eligible for California Children’s Services.
About $1.1 billion of the bond funds would go to the eight private, nonprofit children’s hospitals, including Valley Children’s. About $270 million would go to the five University of California children’s hospitals.
The remaining $150 million would go to roughly 150 other public or private nonprofit hospitals that provide care to children. Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno is one of the hospitals that will be eligible to apply for funds.
“The proposition is really aimed at benefiting kids,” Suntrapak said.
This is the third time in 14 years that voters have been asked to consider a bond for children’s hospitals. In 2004, a $750 million bond measure passed. Valley Children’s received $74 million. In 2008, voters approved a $980 million bond. Valley Children’s got $98 million.
Statewide, children’s hospitals treat a large share of poor children in the state. On average, about two-thirds of the patients are children on Medi-Cal, the state-federal insurance program for families of low income.