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Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Kaiser Breaks Ground on San Marcos Hospital

Kaiser Permanente has started construction of a $403.3 million hospital in San Marcos next to its medical office campus.

“No longer will our residents have to drive all the way to San Diego,” San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones said at the groundbreaking ceremonies. “They can stay right here in North County.”

To view the virtual groundbreaking ceremony, click here.

The San Marcos Medical Center will be Kaiser Permanente’s third acute care hospital in San Diego and follows the August 2017 opening of its $850 million San Diego Medical Center in Kearny Mesa.

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The San Diego hospital was more expensive than the new San Marcos hospital because it’s bigger – 321 beds compared to 206 beds planned for San Marcos – and has the infrastructure in place to expand.

Kaiser Permanente also owned the site of the San Marcos hospital but had to buy land for the San Diego property and demolish San Diego County buildings on the site.

Kaiser Permanente also has the Zion Medical Center in Grantville, opened in 1975.


The decision to build the new San Marcos hospital was driven in part by the rapid growth of Kaiser’s membership in North County, according to Jane Finley, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente.

“Kaiser Permanente’s membership has grown to about 180,000 members in North County and 630,000 county-wide,” Finley said.

Michael Lalich, area medical director and chief of staff of Kaiser Permanente San Diego, said the new hospital “will stand as an iconic landmark of health care built from the ground up with total health in mind.”

“Through revolutionary medical technology and specialized patient care,” Lalich said the new hospital will elevate the level of care “to a new level of excellence.”

Marie-Aline Zappia-Kuzmack, RN, MSN, chief administrative officer of Kaiser Permanente San Diego, said the hospital “brings our compassionate, personalized care even closer to the home of our members who live in North County.”

‘At Kaiser Permanente, our commitment to our members and community is that we will provide the highest quality care and services and we will be the leading integrated health care provided in North County,” Zappia-Kuzmack said.

Under a contract with Palomar Health, Kaiser Permanente’s North County members now receive hospital services at Palomar Medical Center.

Expected to open in mid-2023, the San Marcos Medical Center is under construction on a 121,000 square-foot site at 400 Craven Road bounded by Craven Road, Rush Drive and Discovery Street.

The site is adjacent to Kaiser Permanente’s 232,000 square-foot medical campus.

“It’s going to be co-located next to the outpatient and specialty care ambulatory buildings,” said Tana Lorah, community and government relations manager for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego County.

A landscaped courtyard will separate the new hospital from the existing medical center.


Modeled in its design after the San Diego Medical Center, the seven-story San Marcos hospital will have eight operating rooms, an emergency room, an intensive care unit, a neo-natal intensive care unit, maternity care section and 204 parking spaces.

“We’re taking all that we learned in the San Diego Medical Center and applying that in the San Marcos Medical Center,” Finley said. “To be able to speed up our construction, Kaiser Permanente uses a template that has been vetted throughout our entire system in California.”

DPR headquartered in Redwood with offices in San Diego is the general contractor for the San Marcos project. The architect is CO Architects headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in San Diego.

The project is expected to provide more than 1,000 permanent jobs and 500 construction jobs.

“It’s going to add tremendously to North County’s economy and our health care ecosystem,” said Erik Bruvold, CEO of the San Diego North Economic Development Council.

Mayor Jones said the hospital will “open a number of career opportunities with our youth in San Diego County also.”

The new hospital will have a slightly different stacked look compared to the San Diego Medical Center, which has a more horizontal profile, Lorah said.


Services offered at the new hospital will include infectious disease treatment, cardiology, general surgery, and orthopedics.

“We’ll be adding a second da Vinci robot,” Finley said, referring to the robotic da Vinci Surgical System that’s controlled by a surgeon from a consul. “We have one at San Diego Medical Center and we will have one in San Marcos.”

The building will have a series of balconies on each floor to provide respite for patients, staff and visitors.

“Exterior light is so important. Each room has the exterior facing windows,” Finley said.

With a focus on patient comfort, the blinds in patient rooms are operated by patients so they don’t have to call someone to open or close them.

“A lot of times we find that our patients don’t want to bother anybody. What we’ve done is actually put the controls in their own hands,” Finely said.

Each room also will have 75-inch video screens that can be used for entertainment, to order food and for video visits by doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers.

“That actually is faster for our patients and more efficient for our care givers,” Finley said.

The building of the new hospital is designed to be LEED Gold certified with reclaimed water used for landscaping and cooling towers, LED lighting throughout, electric vehicle charging stations, dedicated ride share and van share parking, bicycle racks and showers to encourage alternative commuting and drought tolerant indigenous landscaping.

The hospital will include a 26,000 square-foot central utility plant “so that we can provide our own energy and some other things that will help us operate efficiently,” Lorah said. “One of the things we’re most proud of is our ability to generate our own power.”

Nicole Capretz, executive director of Climate Action Campaign, said that “Kaiser Permanente has agreed to go carbon neutral, which is certainly what we hope every business will do.”

“We are so excited to again partner with Kaiser Permanente in supporting this ongoing progress of building these clean and green facilities,” Capretz said.

“This is a historical project for us as a company. DPR has had an office in San Diego for 27 years and we are proud to be building a hospital in our backyard with Kaiser Permanente,” said Lucy Villanueva, project executive with DPR Construction. 

To view the virtual groundbreaking ceremony, click here.


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