Expectant mothers arrived one after the other at Sutter Memorial Hospital in East Sacramento on Friday night – an unusual “baby boom” of women needing to give birth during the historic facility’s final hours.
At the midtown campus, more than a dozen soon-to-be moms drove up to the Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center between midnight and 6 a.m., ready to deliver the shiny new hospital’s first babies.
Sutter Health’s maternal, neonatal, pediatric and cardiac services were spread between the two locations during a brief period this weekend as the logistics of an intensely planned and long-awaited hospital move played out.
When you move, it's like moving into a new house. It takes a month to figure out where you want things exactly or how things work exactly.
Dr. Dineen Greer, Sutter Health chief of staff
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A total of 163 patients were moved from Sutter Memorial to Sutter’s midtown campus between midnight Friday and about 6 p.m. Saturday. Fourteen ambulances were filled with patients and care teams, departing once every six to 10 minutes to make the two-mile journey west.
Overnight, teams of nurses first transported some of Memorial’s most delicate patients – babies in the neonatal intensive-care unit. A total of 36 were moved in the early morning, each equipped with a mobile incubator to protect them from the elements and to allow staff to monitor their breathing.
The last baby delivered at Sutter Memorial was born at 1:46 a.m. Saturday.
The first Lucchetti Center baby was born at 3:22 a.m. Saturday.
Wendy Bradley, a Manteca mother who gave birth to triplets July 23 at Memorial, said she couldn’t sleep a wink Friday night as they moved Ally, Carly and Sydney – who weigh about 10 pounds combined – between the facilities. The girls arrived in a spacious new room at the Lucchetti center around 5 a.m. Saturday.
“We got a tour here on Thursday afternoon so we could see where they’d be taken,” said father Todd Bradley. “The staff here has done a really great job keeping us updated.”
Back at Memorial, staff loaded up mothers approaching labor, including high-risk maternity patients. Next came patients from the pediatric intensive-care unit, followed by mothers who had recently delivered and held on to their babies during the ride. The last baby delivered at Sutter Memorial was born at 1:46 a.m. Saturday. The first Lucchetti baby was born at 3:22 a.m.
In the afternoon, staff at the new facility welcomed general pediatric patients, cardiac patients and patients from the general surgery and gynecological units.
Dr. Dineen Greer, chief of staff for Sutter Medical Center, said the process went smoothly and ahead of schedule.
The real challenge now, she said, is helping patients and staff settle into the 10-story, 242-bed facility over the next few days. On top of the move, the whole center is transitioning to a new electronic health system this week.
“When you move, it’s like moving into a new house,” she said. “It takes a month to figure out where you want things exactly or how things work exactly. We’re going to have some of that in a hospital also.”
Meanwhile, staff and community members are saying farewell to Sutter Memorial, which dates back to 1937. More than 348,000 babies have been delivered at the facility, which is closing because it does not meet earthquake safety standards. On Saturday, staff etched goodbye messages on the hospital’s walls and in its elevators.
Not everyone is crushed to see the historic hospital go. A few neighbors came out of their homes on F street Saturday to watch the patients leave, chatting about the new park and housing development that will replace the dilapidated building. They’ve kept tabs on the facility so well over the years that they know the shift changes, said resident Fidel Fonseca.
“It’s bittersweet for us, because we’ve all had family born there,” he said. “But there’s a lot of traffic.”
Highlights of the new midtown hospital include a music therapy room, a helistop, a pediatric emergency department and cardiac labs. Three levels of skywalk connect it to Sutter’s midtown campus, which now houses the Ose Adams Medical Pavilion, the Buhler Specialty Pavilion and Sutter Capitol Pavilion.