By Jeff Clemetson | Editor
On June 29, construction workers raised and installed the final beam for the frame of Alvarado Hospital’s emergency room expansion.
To celebrate the milestone, construction workers and hospital staff gathered for a ceremony that included speeches, food and the signing of the last beam. In a tradition of ironworkers, the final beam was strapped with an American flag and a small pine tree.
“The tree signifies the safe completion of the structural framing and a wish for continued good luck with the project and, eventually, its occupants,” said Jim Roherty, president of Pacific Building Group, the general contractors building the expansion.
Roherty described the addition to Alvarado as a “state-of-the-art facility that will directly benefit our community.”
The expansion project started 18 months ago and the 21,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed in early 2018.
The expanded emergency room will have 21 more beds — nearly double the current patient capacity. The new beds will be on the first floor. A second floor in the expansion will be a designated staff area and have space for future expansion.
In addition to the main building expansion, Pacific Building Group will also be completing an expanded covered ambulance entry; making improvements to the parking lot area; upgrading sidewalks and street lights; installing new landscaping; and upgrading the main hospital’s energy system, including a new emergency generator.
In her speech to the gathered workers and hospital staff, Alvarado Hospital CEO Robin Gomez said the expansion has been in the planning for over 20 years — going all the way back to when her father worked at the hospital as a lead engineer in the late 1990s. The expansion has only become more necessary because having only 12 emergency room beds in a hospital with more than 300 beds “doesn’t make any sense” in today’s health care environment, she added.
“These beds are so important because there is a backlog of patients and waiting times all over the county. Patients are holding in emergency rooms because we don’t have beds for them,” she said. “And these beds here are vital to the safety net of this county — especially East County.”
Alvarado Hospital was built in 1972 and its upgrade will bring it more in line with the only other emergency room serving the area — Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
“There are just two hospitals in East County and it goes all the way past Alpine. It’s Grossmont and us,” Gomez said. “We both have the same service signs. We both are stroke receiving centers. We receive heart attacks from the field as well. We have open heart [surgery capabilities] we can still do and this building signifies so much.”
—Reach Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.