FAIRFIELD — NorthBay Healthcare plans to give its Fairfield hospital a massive makeover in phases during the next 12 to 15 years – even as it keeps the hospital running.
That means building new sections before old sections are replaced. It means dealing with parking issues. It means building a new lobby as part of the strategy of creating room here so renovations can be made there.
“It’s a puzzle,” NorthBay Healthcare Vice President of Public Affairs Steve Huddleston said.
A multiple-year puzzle with many pieces. The NorthBay Medical Center at 1200 B. Gale Wilson Blvd. near Solano Town Center mall will be reborn.
NorthBay Healthcare had originally planned to build a new hospital on the 20 acres it owns in Green Valley, where its administration center is located. That would have allowed it to start from the beginning on vacant land, which would be easier from a logistical standpoint.
But three years ago, NorthBay Healthcare officials decided to make the Fairfield hospital a trauma center. They also decided to keep NorthBay Medical Center at its present location in the heart of Fairfield.
“When you look at travel times to a trauma center, that just made sense,” Huddleston said.
It made sense for Fairfield, too.
“We strongly encouraged them to keep the main hospital campus in the core of the city,” Fairfield City Manager Sean Quinn said. “We thought it was important for the neighborhood.”
He sees an economic benefit to central Fairfield in keeping the hospital and its 1,200 employees.
“You get the spinoff effect from them being there,” Quinn said. “They shop and eat at restaurants. They bring a lot of business in that area. One thing we’ve found is investment spurs other investment.”
Planned projects to improve the NorthBay Medical Center along B. Gale Wilson Boulevard will start small and then get bigger, until they are very big indeed.
The small, initial project is building a magnetic resonance imaging building on the east side of the hospital. This simple, rectangular building is to be only 1,350 square feet, smaller than many a house.
Trauma patients who need the service must now travel across the street to a medical building near Dana Drive. That means a ride in the ambulance because of that street crossing, despite the short distance.
“It’s expensive for us and it’s expensive for the patient,” Huddleston said.
The new location will allow trauma patients to be transported in a gurney, without getting into an ambulance.
Construction on this small building could begin in a few months and be finished by year’s end, Huddleston said. The cost is $2.7 million, with $1.5 million going toward new magnetic imaging resonance equipment.
But that’s only the beginning of the NorthBay Medical Center changes. A $140 million, 77,000-square-foot, three-story hospital addition is to be built to the rear of the existing hospital. It will contain six operating rooms, two cardiac catheterization labs and a larger diagnostic imaging department, plus room for 22 patient beds.
Another addition would be the construction of a new lobby adjacent to the present lobby. That will allow the expansion of the emergency department into the existing lobby space, with the number of treatment bays growing from 19 to 32.
Work on this initial phase of the modernization project could begin in late 2015, Huddleston said.
All of this construction will take away existing parking spaces. Huddleston said NorthBay Medical Center had made arrangements to rent 62 spaces at nearby Solano Town Center and 60 spaces during certain hours at a nearby church for employee parking. In addition, 22 spaces will be created in front of the hospital.
The new buildings will allow NorthBay Medical Center during a future phase to remove and replace an existing part of the hospital. It will be able to do so while still serving patients.
Another concern is doing the work without affecting nearby residential neighborhoods. Huddleston said the hospital has already held neighborhood meetings. It owns some of the homes on Victoria Court and this area could ultimately become parking and a landscaped buffer.
The hospital will not have traffic entering its grounds from the residential neighborhood, he said.
NorthBay Medical Center has a 50-year-plus history in Fairfield. It began with the 32-bed Intercommunity Memorial Hospital being built in 1960. The present version of NorthBay Medical Center got built in 1977.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.