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North County growth prompts hospital construction

A North County population that is growing in size and age has prompted the creation and upgrade of several medical facilities in the area.

Palomar Pomerado Health and Scripps Health are both working quickly to meet the needs of the community and to anticipate the needs of the future.

"There tends to be a demographic of baby boomers who are getting older," said Andy Hoang, spokesman for Palomar Pomerado Health. "It's a destination they're coming to for retirement," he said of North County.

As a result, there is an increased need for geriatric care and an increase in specialists who focus on health issues most common among an older demographic.

"One of our biggest needs of growth is in gastroenterology," said Melody Stewart, senior administrative director for Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo. "We have a new gastroenterologist coming on board."

Palomar Pomerado Health and Scripps Health are working quickly to meet community needs, both present and future. Palomar Pomerado Health is working to complete a $985 million facility, while Scripps Health is awaiting approval for its $200 million multi-phase development. Image courtesy of Palomar Pomerado Health.

During the course of the next several years, these clinics and hospitals will open to the public.

Palomar Pomerado Health

Palomar Pomerado Health is working to complete a $985 million facility master plan that includes construction of a new medical campus in Escondido, expansion of Pomerado Hospital, renovation of Palomar Medical Center downtown and the opening of several satellite centers throughout the district.

Hoang said all projects are on schedule at this time.

"We have families and folks in the community who need a comprehensive care facility in their area," he said. "That's our vision for Pomerado."

The Pomerado Hospital campus will double in size, increasing the number of beds from 107 to more than 200.

The first phase of construction includes the completion of the pavilion and a parking structure with more than 1,200 parking spaces. A bridge connecting the parking structure to the hospital is the main focus at this time. It should be completed in 2010.

The nursing tower should be completed in 2012.

A few months ago, the helicopter pad was moved a few feet from its original location to comply with the addition of the new outpatient pavilion, Hoang said.

Construction also is underway on the 775,000-square-foot Palomar Medical Center West in Escondido.

Scheduled to open in 2011, the medical center features green building techniques and incorporates a variety of healing aspects to improve patients' well being.

Palomar Pomerado Health's new patient rooms are larger, more colorful, single-occupancy rooms with state-of-the-art technology.

Beds will monitor patients' vital signs without all the cords and wires now required. And each room will have the capability to be quickly converted into an intensive care room when necessary.

The beds include a feature that will be especially helpful when caring for the elderly. The bed will monitor movement, and a family member's prerecorded voice will ask the patient to stay in bed and call for a nurse. Injuries from falls and lost patients should be reduced as a result.

Scripps Health

A $200 million, multi-phase development plan designed to meet the growing health care needs of the Scripps Encinitas community is awaiting approval from the city of Encinitas.

If approved, a critical care building will be added to the campus. The two-story building at the southwestern part of the existing structure will house a 36-bed acute care unit and a 24-bed emergency department.

A heliport on the roof will improve transportation for critical emergency patients and transfers.

A three-story acute care building will be added to the hospital's south end to house 20 ICU and 30 medical-surgical beds to expand the in-patient capability.

There also are plans for an 885-stall parking structure.

The Carlsbad Medical Center, scheduled to open in November, will provide medical office and exam rooms used for primary care services as well as offering lab and radiology services.

"As North County continues to grow, the need for health care services, particularly outpatient services, grows as well," said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health. "Scripps is proud of our investment in Carlsbad to meet the community's health care needs, which will make it easier for residents of Carlsbad and surrounding communities to access our physicians, programs and services."

Exterior construction of the 40,655-square-foot medical office development was completed in early April. Tenant improvements now are underway.

Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo will move into its new 150,000-square-foot building across from the existing structure the weekend of Sept. 12. Patients will be seen in the new clinic on Sept. 15.

The move to a larger building allows the clinic to expand the services already provided, including an ambulatory surgery center and expanding the general imaging and general operating room procedures, Stewart said.

It also will allow the clinic to ultimately increase its work force from 250 to more than 300 employees.

Approximately 10 new physicians are already scheduled to begin work at the new clinic. A total of 27 new physicians will be hired during a three-year period.

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