Written by The Business Journal Staff
“There were times this summer when we were completely full,” Mann said, as the Visalia hospital juggled patients waiting in the ER. He added they are hoping the state allows them to move the patients to temporary beds for a few hours when this happens for now.
Meanwhile, the hospital’s biggest project is pending: to expand the busy ER from 32 to 66 beds, extending the building out into the east parking lot on the downtown Visalia campus. It will take time, however, with the new unit set to begin construction in July 2017 but not be ready to open until January 2019.
Already underway is the construction of the ambulatory surgery center that was launched in July and will be ready in December 2017. Adjacent to the hospital, the center is expanding from 11 to 18 beds. This will make it convenient for patients who seek outpatient care but can be close enough to the hospital if more extensive treatment is needed quickly.
Also underway at Kaweah Delta is the infill of the fifth and sixth floors at the new Acequia Wing tower. The infill construction at Visalia will start in September 2017 and the move-in date is January 2019, said Mann. The two floors will add an additional 48 beds for cardiac care and other important uses.
Also underway is planning for a cardiac clinic in the leased 202 W. Willow St. building next to the main campus in Visalia.
Mann said long range the district may open a cardiac care clinic on the West Campus on Akers Street.
In other news, the district’s hospice program has moved closer to the hospital. The program, which has been around for 35 years, is now located at 623 W. Willow St.
Mann said the failure earlier this year of the Measure H bond proposal to build a new seismically safe hospital has slowed long range plans, but that’s OK.
“We want to take this time to consider all the options,” he said. Asked if that might include sale of any assets or stakes in affiliates, Mann said “everything is on the table.”
Some community criticism of the direction of the hospital’s five-member board did not translate into any major change in the structure of the new board at the ballot box this November. The new board will retain four of the five incumbents at least.
With three seat up for grabs this round, incumbents won two with the last seat in doubt. Newcomer and business owner Nevin House is ahead of incumbent Teresa Ramos in the vote tally, which not yet final. House has been critical of the size of the bond.
Mann said the board could take a year to come up with a new strategy to finance the needed hospital after much more community discussion. The new hospital needs to be in place in 2030.