OAKDALE -- Oak Valley Hospital District officials are asking the community to help them celebrate a long-awaited milestone: the completion of the first phase of the district's new $69 million hospital.
The district will hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. But the hospital may not open for business until mid-August, said district Trustee Bob Wikoff, adding that it still needs final approval from the state.
The project has been a long time coming.
District trustees envisioned building a new hospital about a decade ago. They planned to build one to replace Oak Valley's outdated, 1970s-era hospital. The original hospital was to be razed and turned into a parking lot.
But the district scaled back its plans after construction costs escalated and voters in 2008 twice rejected a $27 million bond for the project. Voters did pass a $37 million bond in 2004 that was part of the project's funding.
Construction started in 2009, and the opening date has been set back more than once. The hospital was expected to open in late 2011 and then early this year.
"I'm glad that we are finally able to open our new hospital for business," said Wikoff, who has been on the hospital board about a dozen years.
The new hospital is two stories. But the second story which is slated for inpatient services and patient rooms is a shell and won't be completed until funding becomes available.
The hospital is connected to the old one by a wing. The old one will continue to offer inpatient services. The new hospital's features include a state-of-the art emergency department and operating rooms.
Wikoff said the new facility will let Oak Valley provide better care for its patients, make it easier to recruit physicians and make it more competitive with neighboring hospitals.
Mayor Pat Paul echoed those comments, adding that when she talks to businesses about coming to Oakdale she includes the hospital.
"We are so lucky to have a hospital," she said. "They are closing everywhere."
The public hospital district has an annual operating budget of about $64 million and employs about 550 part- and full-time employees.
Besides Oak Valley Hospital, it operates a long-term care facility, three rural health clinics and four ambulance services. It provides health care to about 70,000 residents in eastern Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.
IF YOU GO
The open house is Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the new ambulance entrance, 350 S. Oak Ave., Oakdale. The event includes tours, refreshments and commemorative items.