Dignity Health's workshop on their future Elk Grove hospital leaves no unanswered questions

Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen (left) and Dignity Health executive Phyliss Baltz engaging
with participants at the workshop on what is expected to be Elk Grove's first hospital. | 

A small audience at a project workshop, Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephnie Nguyen commented, is an indication that proponents have done their work, and the community is satisfied with the product. If those comments about inverse relations are correct, then Dignity Health's future hospital in Elk Grove has broad community support. 

Nguyen made those comments before a handful of people at the end of a workshop she sponsored in cooperation with Dignity Health on their future hospital on Wymark Drive in Elk Grove's District56 civic center area. The workshop was held at Dignity's outpatient surgical facility on Wymark Drive.

After brief opening remarks by Nguyen, Phyliss Baltz, who is president of Dignity Health's Methodist Hospital in Sacramento, gave a history of the project and a time table for completion of the $367 million 100-bed facilities. The next phase on Dignity's 20-acre campus is the construction of a 100-bed hospital with an estimated construction cost of $367 million that has a targeted opening date in 2026 or 2027 and will replace Methodist Hospital, which is unable to become compliant with 2030 seismic standards.

Baltz entertained questions from the attendees regarding their project. The December 2018 announcement of California Northstate University's $900 million 400-bed proposed hospital has generated interest in Dignity's project, especially as a comparison point.

As part of their process, Baltz said they hope to determine the project contractor by this August and submit an application with California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, a process that she expects to be reviewed and approved by 2023 or 2024. After the project is certified on that level, construction can start.

"It takes about three years to build it right," Baltz said.

Elk Grove resident Barbara Patterson asked Baltz about the projected needs for more regional hospital beds and if Dignity foresees an acceleration of outpatient services. At their recent pizzeria town hall meeting held by California Northstate University on Tuesday, February 18, Dr. Gordon Wong said they expect a move away from outpatient care, and surgical procedures and a return to more overnight, inpatient hospital stays.

"Do you anticipate it is going to go back to everyone staying in the hospital five days to have a baby again," Patterson asked Baltz.

In response, Baltz said she expects the trend of having more services and surgical procedures on an outpatient basis will continue to increase. She noted 95-percent of oncology services are provided on an outpatient basis, and there is a growing trend of more in-home services, particularly as the population ages.

"Absolutely not," Baltz stated. "I don't see us going back to long lengths of stay."

As the session wound down, Elk Grove resident Jan Smutney-Jones expressed gratitude for Baltz's openness.

"It's really good to get straight answers for once, and I really appreciate that," he said.

In closing, Nguyen said, "Having a small crowd is not a bad thing because it means you did everything right, and they have no question because you were very transparent."

The entire recording is available on the following page.  


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