'The Pillow Guy' and California Northstate University's commitment to building, opening hospital by 2022

If the pillow thing collapses, there might be opportunities in Elk Grove
for this conspiracy theory pitchman. | 

As they had a few times last year, California Northstate University recently distributed a mailer in Elk Grove promoting their proposed hospital ahead of an Elk Grove Planning Commission meeting on their plans. That hospital, first unveiled in December 2018 by the for-profit medical and pharmacy schools, includes a 400-bed hospital with an estimated cost of $900 million.

Since the plans were made public in 2018 the project has been nothing if not controversial. The project is proposed for the site of a shopping center, which CNU purchased, in Elk Grove's Stonelake master-planned community. 

Residents in the area quickly organized a group called Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency - NEST - that caught the attention of Elk Grove councilmember Darren Suen, who represents the area.  Initially, Suen offered full-throated support for the CNU group, which included accepting their cash donations, but once Elk Grove adopted by-district elections, he changed his tuned and stepped back in fear of losing Stonelake voters.

Although there have been many claims thrown around by the CNU entourage, one continues to be baffling that is included in the recent mailer. The glossy piece listed a bullet point under the heading "More facts about the CNU Medical Center" that says, "California Northstate University's goal [our emphasis] is to complete the hospital by 2022."  

Readers may recall that Dignity Health, which through their association with the Sisters of Mercy, can trace their Sacramento origins to the California Gold Rush of the mid 19th Century, will open a 100-bed hospital in Elk Grove in the next four to five years. Dignity, which has a long track record of opening facilities (CNU has never opened a hospital), has stated the approval process for their city-approved new Elk Grove Hospital through the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development will take a minimum of three years. 

While CNU's project at the current proposed location will undoubtedly be approved by the Elk Grove City Council in some form regardless of what happens at the upcoming planning commission meeting, the project's proponents still have to go through the same state approval process as Dignity and every other hospital in the State of California. Do they have well-placed friends in state government, or will they be exploiting some previously undiscovered loophole?

When asked last year about the possibility that the hospital will be built and opened by the end of 2022, one of the project's proponents told us not to underestimate CNU President Alvin Cheung and his group.  After all, he said, they were quickly approved by the state for their medical school. 

Other challenges persist for CNU, such as financing of an almost $1 billion project. The CNU crew has not disclosed any financing arrangements, and from a public relations point of view, if they had this secured the cash, you can be sure they would be announcing this to add credence to their claims.

Who knows, maybe, instead of demolishing the Stonelake Landing shopping center as part of their plan for the towering hospital, they will set up shop in the empty retail spaces. It gives a whole new meaning to repurposing excess retail space. 

Now granted, their use of the word goal offers a qualified escape clause. But really, this goal of opening the hospital by 2022 is not unlike the guy at the bar stating he will become a tugboat captain in three years by watching YouTube instructional videos - sure, it is possible, but it improbable.

On second thought, maybe the CNU crew has recruited TV and kooky conspiracy pitchman Mike Lindell, also known as Donald Trump's Pillow Guy, to handle their mailer messaging. As crazy as Lindell's claims are, he and others have convinced enough people that Trump was robbed of a second term, so persuading locals that in the next 696 days, Elk Grove's first hospital will be built and open is as easy as a walk in the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge!  

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

The 2022 completion date would sure look good in the investor brochures. If for example you are living in China wanting to invest in an American hospital, well you are familiar with how quick they can throw up a hospital in China--weeks as we saw during the pandemic!

So Mister Investor writes a big fat check, but uh oh, CNU has to break the bad news to you...the American Yankee bureaucracy threw a monkey wrench in the process and it will take a couple years longer. CNU is just the messenger, don't blame them!

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