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Kaiser Opens San Marcos Medical Center

HEALTHCARE: $403.3M Facility Able to Expand to 206 Beds

With plans to welcome its initial patients on Wednesday (Aug. 9), Kaiser Permanente showed off its gleaming, new, $403.3 million San Marcos Medical Center to dignitaries in a morning ceremony on July 28.

Dr. Michael Lalich
Medical Director and Chief of Staff
Kaiser Permanente San Diego

“It really has come together very well,” said Dr. Michael Lalich, medical director and chief of staff for Kaiser Permanente San Diego, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the medical center, adjacent to its existing San Marcos campus.

The new medical center – with seven floors and a basement, containing 430,000 square feet of space – is the culmination of three years of work, said Jane Finley, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente San Diego, recalling its groundbreaking in December 2020.

Jane Finley
Senior Vice President and Area Manager
Kaiser Permanente San Diego

The facility comes “with room to grow,” Finley said.

There are 182 licensed private patient rooms. The medical center will serve Kaiser’s membership in North San Diego County, which totals 186,000 people. “As North County has continued to grow, so has our membership,” said Max Villalobos, chief operating officer for Kaiser Permanente, North County.

The hospital will be able to support up to 206 beds.

The facility also brings 1,100 jobs to the area.

Healthcare and Education

During the ceremony, San Marcos Deputy Mayor Sharon Jenkins gave an official welcome and introduced the medical center as the newest part of her city’s educational cluster. She thanked Kaiser Permanente for choosing San Marcos.

Janet Liang
Group President and Chief Operating Officer, Care Delivery
Kaiser Permanente

“We are grateful, thankful and very, very proud of this moment,” said Janet Liang, group president and chief operating officer for care delivery at Kaiser Permanente.

Liang noted that the hospital was completed early and under budget. “You can tell there are a bunch of high achievers here in San Diego,” she said.

Dr. Ramin Davidoff
Executive Director and Chairman of the Board
Southern California Permanente Medical Group

The project and the day’s celebration is a culmination of several years of effort, said Dr. Ramin Davidoff, executive director and chairman of the board for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

David Horton, chief administrative officer for Kaiser Permanente San Diego, spoke of the importance of bringing care closer to Kaiser’s North County patients, and the ability of Kaiser’s unique, integrated structure – combining health plan, physician group and hospital – to provide high-quality, affordable care.

In Spite of a Pandemic

In his public remarks, Villalobos spoke of partnerships, saying the community rallied to make the hospital a reality. Decision makers “never flinched” when something difficult came up, he said.

Max Villalobos
Chief Operating Officer
Kaiser Permanente North County

“Breaking ground and completing most of the construction for our new San Marcos Medical Center during a worldwide pandemic was an ambitious undertaking,” Villalobos said later. “The work to navigate schedules and gain necessary approvals to expedite our build was aided every step of the way by our partners with the city of San Marcos. Together, we were able to build this hospital and open for care nearly two months ahead of schedule.”

As things turned out, there were no shortages of steel, copper or labor, Lalich said.

DPR was the general contractor for the project. The architect is CO Architects.

A LEED Achievement

As part of the July 28 ceremony, a representative of the U.S. Green Building Council presented Kaiser Permanente with a certificate identifying the medical center as a LEED Platinum building.

“We were aiming for Gold and we got Platinum,” said Villalobos. “From the beginning, we set out to build a hospital that maximizes energy efficiency and environmentally responsible technologies and systems.”

Among the features that helped Kaiser Permanente attain LEED Platinum certification were a radiant floor system, which provides the ability to maintain comfortable temperatures throughout the medical center by sending cool or heated water through the floor.

Villalobos also said the San Marcos facility became the first hospital in California to utilize partial low voltage lighting, which is 57 volts DC.  The standard for most buildings is 277 volts AC.

The emergency department has 39 beds. The complex also includes six operating rooms (including Da Vinci robotic surgery). The third floor houses eight state-of-the-art birthing suites (including areas near the windows that can accommodate partners wanting to take a rest); a neonatal intensive care unit is nearby.

Kerry Forde
Chief Operating Officer
Kaiser Permanente San Diego

Kaiser Permanente incorporated lessons learned from recent building projects, said Kerry Forde, Chief Operating Officer for Kaiser Permanente San Diego. In one example, nurses said they preferred unobstructed views down corridors; floor plans were altered to eliminate view-blocking barriers.

The San Marcos medical center was not the first major project for Kaiser Permanente in recent memory.

Kaiser Permanente completed its $850 million, 321-bed Kearny Mesa medical center in the summer of 2017. Its Zion Medical Center, a central fixture in community of Grantville, was built in 1975.

Rooms in the new San Marcos medical center have views of the surrounding landscape – including hills that have not seen development.

Artworks in the building take their cues from the surrounding hills as well as the nearby, yet out of sight, Pacific Ocean. The San Marcos landscape inspired abstract sculptures of multilayered planes – reminiscent of topographical maps – suspended from the lobby ceiling.

Lalich told the dignitaries who attended the ribbon-cutting that the facility comes with beautiful art as well as 65-inch monitors in the rooms.

“We’re sold out for Super Bowl already,” he said, drawing some laughs from the crowd.

Kaiser Permanente

FOUNDED: 1945
CEO: Greg A. Adams
HEADQUARTERS: Oakland
BUSINESS: Healthcare
EMPLOYEES: Nearly 12,000 physicians and employees in San Diego
WEBSITE: kp.org
CONTACT: 800-464-4000
SOCIAL IMPACT: Kaiser traces its diversity and inclusion efforts to World War II, when its racially integrated hospitals delivered care to all Kaiser shipyard workers
NOTABLE: Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving 12.7 million members.

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