$1 Billion Investment
Final Steel Beam Put in Place at Vaca's Kaiser Permanente
By Jason Massad/Staff Writer
A hoist lifts the last steel beam to be placed on top of Kaiser Permanente's new Vacaville facility during a "topping off" ceremony Wednesday. The event signifies that the building has reached its full height. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)
The Kaiser Permanente medical center in Vacaville reached a milestone Wednesday when the final steel beam was attached to a structure that is scheduled to become a full-service 340,000-square-foot hospital in 2009.
With the city's medical community, local dignitaries, and, of course, construction workers looking on, the "topping off" ceremony served as a way to commemorate both the 10-year anniversary of the Kaiser medical offices in Vacaville and the company's ever expanding future.
"We're getting ready for Part B of this wonderful facility," said Steven Stricker, physician-in-chief for the Vacaville medical center. "This facility will have all the specialities that are currently in Vallejo."
The four-story Kaiser hospital planned for the Vaca Valley Parkway and Quality Drive location would be in addition to the Kaiser medical offices that are currently there, but the expansion doesn't end there.
As part of the construction campaign, additional medical offices and an operations plant will be added to the medical center. The expansion is a $1 billion investment and will add 1,000 high-paying medical jobs to Vacaville's growing economic base, said hospital officials.
The Kaiser Permanente economic expansion was lauded Wednesday by Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine.
"These are good jobs for good people who won't have to commute," Augustine said. "It all is part of the wonderful economic vitality going on in this city."
In addition to the growing economic base, Kaiser will offer more complete medical services in Vacaville when construction of the new facilities is complete.
John Hills, a lead physician at the medical center, said his patients in opthamology, for instance, would be better served by a Vacaville hospital for Kaiser patients.
Currently, many patients who are candidates for surgical procedures and diagnosed in Vacaville must be sent to Vallejo for the actual procedure.
The new hospital will contain 150 beds with private rooms for maternity services, emergency care, radiology and a range of surgical services. New physicians are being hired who specialize in infectious diseases, neurological problems and other specialities.
The expansion is the hallmark of a growing area, Hills said. Kaiser's hospital would be a companion to the city's first - Vaca Valley Hospital.
"It's been a growing area," Hills said. "The population along I-80 corridor has exploded from what I can tell."
Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest HMOs in California. The medical group has 3.2 million enrollees in Northern California and 8 million statewide.
"As exciting as (it) is, the best part of the project is the expansion of our industry-leading quality and service to our present and future members," said Deborah Romer, senior vice president and Napa-Solano area manager.
Jason Massad can be reached at email@example.com.
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