Health & Medicine

Sutter Davis Hospital leader details $69.5 million expansion plans for ER, birth center

The chief executive officer of Sutter Davis Hospital shared details Tuesday on the planned $69.5 million expansion of the facility’s emergency department, birthing center and medical-surgical unit. The construction, she said, should be finished by 2024.

Rachael McKinney, speaking in the hospital’s meditation garden, told roughly 50 guests and employees: “The time has come for us to evolve and grow with this dynamic and diverse community. ... Sutter Health is investing in a master facility plan for our hospital that focuses on expanding some of our most heavily used services.”

The project is expected to break ground early next year, McKinney said, and the master plan calls for growth of 28,154 square feet. Here’s where patients will see changes:

The addition of five triage spaces and 11 treatment areas to the existing emergency department. That will bring the number of treatment spaces to 23 and grow the ER’s footprint by more than 11,000 square feet.

Construction of three new labor and delivery rooms for a total to nine, four postpartum recovery rooms for a total of 16, three tubs for the hospital’s distinctive water-birthing program for a total of five, and two C-section delivery rooms.

Expanding the unit where patients ages 15 and up are admitted for care. The unit will grow to 35 beds from 30.

Some of the new space could open as early as 2021, said McKinney, who said it was fitting the expansion announcement came in the same month Sutter Davis was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor recalled several memorable occasions over the years when his family had reason to call upon the facility.

“I think it was Sutter physicians who set my son’s arm when he was in ninth grade and fell off his bike on the first day of summer,” he said. “I know it was Sutter Davis Hospital that performed an emergency appendectomy on myself not too long ago, and you wonder, ‘Why do they call it an emergency?’ Nobody schedules that as an elective.”

The Sutter staff also showed great sensitivity, Saylor said, in preparing his mother-in-law to transition to hospice care.

Davis Mayor Brett Lee said he was pleased Sutter was willing to make such a significant investment in Davis and he assured McKinney that he and his team were willing to work with her team to make the expansion a success.

“Sutter is more than just a place for people to come and have their appointments,” Lee said. “Sutter really is an active nonprofit in our community, and just as an example, they’ve invested over $200,000 in the Davis Pathways (to Employment) program. This is a program that provides rental assistance, job training and case management for residents experiencing homelessness or at very high risk for homelessness. In addition, they have a history of supporting the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, the Yolo Hospice and the Yolo Food Bank, and they recently made a very generous donation of $1 million to help the food bank’s operational relocation.”

Dr. Melissa Marshall thanked Sutter Health for establishing a true partnership with the federally qualified health centers she runs under the CommuniCare Health Centers brand. FQHCs offer primary and preventive care to some of the nation’s most vulnerable residents, individuals who have no insurance or who receive coverage through Medi-Cal, and for their focus on these patients, they receive a higher reimbursement rate from the federal government.

Sutter, Marshall said, granted CommuniCare the land to build a facility just a few dozen feet from its Davis hospital, and their partnership expanded with the opening of the Davis hospital’s birthing center in 1994.

“We are so excited that our patients get to access a facility that was a (Malcolm) Baldrige Award-winner for quality,” Marshall said. “And just this year, our collaborative practice was nationally recognized by the American College of Nurse Midwives for its low C-section rate. ... It’s unique to not only share a campus, but we also share call coverage to support the perinatal and newborn programs.”

McKinney said her team will continue to focus on providing a culture of caring during the expansion and will try to minimize disruptions for patients.

“By expanding access to our birthing center, our emergency department and our in-patient unit, I see it as only enhancing the patient experience,” she said. “Sometimes, when we have capacity constraints, patients may have to wait longer in the emergency department, or they may have to wait while a bed opens up on the in-patient unit. By expanding care here, I see the patient experience improving.”

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid out of pocket for care. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and features editor. She previously worked at papers including the Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.