Friday, April 06, 2007

Healthy Expansion

Healthy Expansion
New Building Will Combine NorthBay Healthcare Offices
By John Ireland/Business Writer

About 40 dignitaries arrive at 4500 Business Center Drive in Green Valley to partake in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new NorthBay Healthcare Administrative Services/Conference Center. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

The movement of a little sod this week will eventually have a large impact on health care in Solano County.

Ten golden shovels flashed in the sunlight Thursday at the official groundbreaking ceremony for NorthBay Healthcare's new administration office and conference center on Business Center Drive in Green Valley.

When construction is completed next spring on the 69,000-square-foot two-story structure, it will mark the first time in more than 20 years that all of NorthBay's administrative services will be gathered under one roof.

The new building will house the entire corporate staff, including public relations, managed care, human resources, finance, the business office, and information technology. The offices of NorthBay Health Advantage and the NorthBay Foundation will also share the facility.

This consolidation will free up much-needed space for medical offices in NorthBay's Gateway Medical Plaza building in Fairfield, and in the VacaValley Health Plaza.

"It's really important to take administrative functions out of prime clinical space," said NorthBay spokeswoman Joanie Erickson. "That's space we can now use for other medical facilities."

The new development is also part of NorthBay Healthcare's master plan to become more of a presence in the southern part of Solano County, helping the company raise its profile in an area where Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health are already firmly established.

What makes NorthBay Healthcare different, according to Erickson, it that it is locally-owned and controlled.

"We're all about Solano County," she said. "Solano County is all we do. We don't have hospitals in Sacramento or the Bay Area."

Helping to improve services is also the major purpose of the second component of the Green Valley project - the 300-seat conference center that will also be available for community use.

NorthBay CEO Gary Passama told Thursday's gathering that the center represents "a long-held dream of many of us to have a facility to allow us to better train our staff and also provide a venue for community health education activities."

That the center will also help save NorthBay money, Passama said, "is just one more benefit."

Another benefit, Erickson said, is being able to offer the soon-to-be-vacated administration offices to specialists who aren't currently in the county.

"We've had a shortage of office space for physicians, and that has made recruitment difficult," she said. "We'll now have prime office space right across from hospitals."

As traffic continues to clot on the highways, and the price of gas soars, unabated, into the stratosphere, Erickson stressed the important role the new administration center will play in minimizing the distance people need to travel to receive healthcare.

"What we're really trying to do is make sure that all of our services are available right here in Solano County," she said.

A rendering shows how the NorthBay Healthcare administration office and conference center will look. (Artist's rendering)

John Ireland can be reached at

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