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In a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kaiser Permanente’s Downtown Commons Medical Offices, the health giant’s leaders and public officials touted the facility Friday morning as a cornerstone of the downtown revitalization and a catalyzing force for the local economy.
Thousands of Kaiser’s members, including City Council member Steve Hansen and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, already work downtown, but the facility, a nearby sports clinic and a planned medical center will bring thousands of potential consumers – both workers and patients — into downtown.
“At my office, I can’t believe the number of times people have said, ‘I can’t wait. I can walk there,' ” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who walked across the street from her office in the federal courthouse named for her late husband. What Kaiser brings is not only convenient health care, she added, but also “a huge amount of economic activity … with the people who work here, the people who will go out to restaurants here, maybe stay later for the game or a show.”
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The six-story Kaiser building, at 501 J St., will have a public open house Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will officially open for business Monday. Kaiser members will be able to see family doctors and pediatricians, get prescriptions filled and lab work done, receive treatments for cancer, and get eyeglasses.
Dr. Rob Azevedo, Kaiser’s physician-in-chief for Sacramento, had one piece of advice for those visiting the facility: “As you walk around, take a look at the art – beautiful pieces in exam rooms, out in the halls, just amazing art. We have over 330 pieces, and we’ve utilized 70 local artists in this building.”
Senior Vice President and Area Manager Sandy Sharon said one of her favorites was a colorful mixed-media work titled “Unbridled Heart” by Nevada City artist LeAnn Brook. There are also pieces by Maren Conrad, Donald Satterlee, Sofia Lacin, Hennessy Christophel and Jesse Vasquez, among others.
Sharon also recommends that visitors walk out on the third-story plaza deck, a living roof atop the office building’s 300-stall garage that features drought-tolerant native plants. There, you’ll also find not only poppy-like umbrellas over the tables but also a hand-drawn illustration that artists Lacin and Christophel had cut into an aluminum fence. Titled “The Milkweed and the Monarch,” the illustration depicts both the native butterfly and the plant that nourishes it.
The exam rooms feature pneumatic chairs rather than the benches that patients now must hop up on. With these chairs, patients only have to sit down, and the nurse or doctor can press a button to raise, lower or recline the seat. The oncology and hematology patients will get the sixth-floor views of the city as they sit for infusions that can sometimes take hours. Spanish-language speakers will find a third-floor clinic called Salud En Español where bilingual primary-care providers will deliver culturally sensitive care.
The new office building is one of three new facilities that Kaiser is opening in downtown Sacramento. One block away in the Golden 1 Center, Kaiser also has a sports medicine center that treats athletes of all ages. The health care giant also is planning to build a medical center on 18 acres it is buying in the nearby Sacramento Railyards. That facility will replace Kaiser’s Morse Avenue complex that will no longer meet earthquake safety codes by 2030.
Dr. Rich Isaacs, the executive director and CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, told attendees at Friday’s event that the new facilities will help the company to meet the growing demand it is seeing in the Sacramento region.
“We’ve been here since 1965. When we came in 1965, we were taking care of somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 Sacramentans,” Isaacs said. “We are now on the verge of taking care of 1 million people who live here in greater Sacramento … . We have a 50 percent commercial market penetration in greater Sacramento, and we are focused on providing convenient affordable health care to this entire community.”