Hospital debuts new ICU/emergency room

BY DAVID JAMES HEISS Record Gazette

Friday, January 25, 2013

The public had its inaugural opportunity to see where a significant portion of their $108 million Measure A bond fund money was invested, as San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital celebrated the completion of its two-story emergency room and intensive care unit, with a crowded ceremony Jan. 18.

Doctors, healthcare district board members and administrators thanked the community for its patience and faith in the hospital's vision -- attributed by some to the tireless efforts of San Gorgonio Memorial Healthcare District Board president Dorothy Ellis, who has made the building her mission.

"When I first came out here, I was told they were going to build a new ICU," recalled Dr. Roger Seheult, head of intensive care services, who has worked at the hospital for five years. "For the first time in 60 years, we're going to have an upstairs," referring to the second story of the building, which will house the intensive care unit atop the emergency room department. He boasted about the structural safety of the building, which should withstand a 7.0 earthquake and still function. "We will be good stewards of your bond funds," he said. "There will be shorter waits for paitents, and more beds -- but my favorite part, will be upstairs" where his department will be housed.

The lobby area and adjacent hallways overflowed with visitors, which included city council and school district officials from area cities, hospital staff, members of the building's design and construction crews, curious community members, and Assemblyman Brian Nestande and Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley.

"Thank you to every property owner in the area for your financial support," said CEO Mark Turner. "Without your support, we would not be here today. Thanks to you we can build buildings and show them off to you today, but we needed to have the reputation and the doctors that draw patients to this new facility. We are poised to enhance the quality of care."

He noted that the hospital enjoys partnerships with Epic Management, which provides management and consultation services for Beaver Medical Group; and Loma Linda University Medical Center -- relationships that has helped San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital attract specialty physicians.

"Thanks to you, this beautiful structure will save lives for years to come," said Dr. Jerilynn Kaibel, chairwoman of the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital board of directors. "We're fortunate to assemble the finest staff and support for this district. As our communities have grown, the need for qualitative, diversified care has grown."

She continued on to praise the various departments, and singled out healthcare district president Ellis "for having the vision to see this facility through."

Dr. Devin Borna, the hospital's chief of staff, expressed "Thanks to the community for your support. We have a brand new ER, a beautiful state-of-the-art ICU, and we look forward to improving the quality of care we provide."

Groups of people were taken on tours of the new building, which should officially open within a couple of months, pending inspections by the California Department of Public Health. CEO Turner anticipates the emergency room and ICU could start accepting patients by April.

"This is a tremendous asset to the community," assemblyman Nestande said after the ceremony. "It's received great support. It's not easy to get a tax passed. It shows the importance to the community -- getting healthcare measures passed has been tough" elsewhere.

Prince Na, director of pharmacy services, was impressed.

"Fabulous," he said. "State-of-the-art. To be here to open a new building is huge. With healthcare undergoing so many changes -- to have a community that's supportive, it's encouraging to me and our staff during a time when support for healthcare has been shrinking."

A $108 million Measure A general obligation bond was passed in March 2006 to support the upgrade of San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital's facilities, which was planned out in a series of at least three phases.

The completion of Phase I, which includes the construction of the new ICU building, internal remodeling projects and expansion of existing facilities such as materials management and dietary services will be completed by the end of the year, exhausting the Measure A funds, CEO Turner said.

Next on the drawing board, he said, would be the fundraising for Phase IIA, in which the hospital is looking to secure at least $184 million in funding for a six-story patient care facility that would house 120 private patient rooms, a floor for surgical services, a new entryway and waiting room area, and pharmacy and radiology space.

That project would take four years to build, Turner said. If everything went as planned, that facility could open as early as 2017.