It's down to 33 days.
In a little more than a month, Merced's new hospital will be open to patients. That new hospital passed another hurdle last week when the state Department of Health Services gave the North Merced facility a license to operate.
"The state has given us permission to move into our new facility," said Ann Ahmadi, director of transition planning for Mercy Medical Center.
The hospital is scheduled to open for service May 2 at 6 a.m.
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Five inspectors gave the $260 million hospital a thorough going-over, and Ahmadi said with the approval of the license, the move from the 13th Street hospital can be stepped up.
About 90 percent of Mercy's employees have gone through on-site training, Ahmadi said. The hospital has about 1,100 employees, but more than 2,000 people have gone through training. Hospital volunteers, clergy in the area, police, fire and other organizations have also undergone training.
"The state told us they were impressed with the preparedness of the employees," Ahmadi said.
The 13th Street hospital is scheduled to close to in-patients at 6 a.m. May 2, which is a Sunday. Patients in the hospital that day will be carried by ambulance to the new facility.
If there are patients in the old emergency room who haven't been seen by 6 a.m. that day, Ahmadi said they'll be assessed, and if a patient needs to be admitted to the hospital, that patient will be taken to the new hospital.
There will be emergency room staff to treat any patients who are in the waiting room when the move begins. Staff will stay at the 13th Street facility until everyone in the emergency department has been treated, Ahmadi said.
Hospital administrators are planning to move about 100 patients to the new hospital. Elective surgeries will be postponed the week before the move, so the hospital census, which averages about 120, will be lower than normal.
Ahmadi said 23 ambulances will be used to move the hospital patients, with the goal being moving a patient every three minutes. The move is being done on a Sunday because traffic in Merced is usually light on Sunday mornings.
"We will have police stationed at intersections with stoplights," Ahmadi said. The hospital is being helped by a company from Canada that assists hospitals with facility transitions.
The emergency room at the new hospital will be open for business at 6 a.m. May 2, when the old emergency room closes. Ahmadi said staffing will be ramped up that Sunday so patients at both campuses can be treated. The move is expected to be finished by noon.
Residents who are curious about the new hospital will have a chance to tour it Saturday, April 24. Robert McLaughlin, spokesman for Mercy, said the hospital will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for tours.
The tours, which are free, will include the emergency room, the intensive care unit, operating rooms, the family birthing center, the imaging center and the sixth and seventh floors of the hospital.
A tent will be set up in the parking lot of the hospital, McLaughlin said. There will be community groups inside the tent discussing healthy lifestyles.
"We have the Merced Bike Coalition, and people can see the inside of an ambulance," McLaughlin said. The hospital will also be giving away a Nintendo Wii game system.
Local obstetricians and pediatric dentists will be on hand to talk about healthy living. The helicopter from Children's Hospital Central California, called Air George, will be landing on the hospital's landing pad.
"We're expecting about 2,000 people to tour the hospital," McLaughlin said. "People who want to see everything should plan on spending about 45 minutes in the hospital."
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.