By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
This has been a year of changes and long-awaited advancements for the area’s health care providers.
In March, Palomar Pomerado Health announced it would go by a shorter name — Palomar Health — a move made to precede the opening of the public health district’s new hospital in Escondido.
“This was the best time to do it,” said Ted Kleiter, board chairman. “This is a history-making year for us. Our culture, our buildings, our brand and image are all evolving. It is my hope that our name and logo will complement the positive changes in the district and what is in store beyond 2012.”
On April 21, a community celebration marked the 35th anniversary of Pomerado Hospital. It opened on June 29, 1977 with 130 patient beds, 200 employees and more than 50 physicians. The 150,000-square-foot hospital cost $17.5 million for construction and equipment. Over the years, facilities added included an expanded birthing center, Villa Pomerado skilled nursing facility and Pomerado Outpatient Pavilion.
The biggest step forward in area medicine came in August when the new Palomar Medical Center opened. Thousands of area residents got a sneak peek at the “Hospital of the Future” on July 28 when they toured the 11-story, 740,000-square-foot, 288-patient bed, $956 million facility at 2185 W. Citracado Parkway in Escondido.
On Aug. 19, a carefully orchestrated switch occurred when Palomar Health relocated its emergency department and trauma center from the original Palomar Medical Center at 555 E. Valley Parkway in Escondido. The new ER has 48 rooms among three “pods” and two large trauma suites. The previous ER had 29 beds.
The original Palomar Medical Center, that opened in February 1950 with 37 beds, became the Palomar Health Downtown Campus providing speciality services including women’s, children’s, rehabilitation, behavioral health and urgent care.
The new hospital has the latest in technology and a hotel-like atmosphere. Each private hospital room has a family area and was designed to maximize safety and increase availability of medical staff to oversee patients.
The facility is built for flexibility and to accommodate technological innovations in the hospital’s projected 50- to 75-year lifespan. There is room for growth since 2 1/2 floors were shelled. In December, the new hospital was named the 2012 national “Best of the Best Health Care Projects” and received two state awards.
In October, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the $3 million pedestrian bridge that by next spring will connect Pomerado Hospital and the Pomerado Outpatient Pavilion. Pacific Medical is paying the cost since it owns the pavilion leased to the hospital and Arch Health Partners, which is affiliated with Palomar Health.
When completed, the 84-foot-long bridge will ease patient, visitor, physician and staff access between the buildings. The bridge will go from the second floor of the pavilion to the hospital. Users will then access elevators to reach the ground where they will find a new plaza outside the emergency department’s entrance.
Officials said they expect the bridge to ease access from the 1,200-space parking garage east of the pavilion and facilitate patient transport via wheelchair or gurney between the hospital and pavilion.
On Oct. 25, 4S Ranch residents and adjacent communities received new medical options. The first offices in the 4S Health Center opened, with doctors from Arch Health Partners seeing patients in the new, two-story, 40,000-square-foot facility at 16918 Dove Canyon Road.
The 4S Ranch facility has two family medicine physicians and a pediatrician. Various medical specialities are available on a rotating basis.
Other medical and dental specialists also opened practices in the building.