VICTORVILLE • St. Joseph Health, St. Mary broke ground on its Victorville hospital Tuesday that’s expected to add 128 hospital beds — and the first trauma center in the High Desert.
“I would suggest to you that building a hospital this size and all of the other things that we have planned for this Oasis campus, at a time of economic downturn throughout the country, doesn’t make a lot of sense from the financial perspective,” Alan Garrett, president and CEO of St. Mary, told local dignitaries and employees gathered at an open desert field. “It makes perfect sense from the mission perspective.”
The new hospital, equal to the size of about four football fields, is scheduled to be completed in 2016. St. Mary purchased a 98-acre property along Amargosa Road between Bear Valley Road and Main Street to build a campus, which St. Mary is trying to turn into a health and wellness “oasis.”
“It will not only provide jobs but it will provide greater access to care especially for those residents that are living on the west side of the I-15 freeway,” Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron said. “This is where the growth of Victorville will occur in the future as it occurred over the last decade.”
Three out of four patients St. Mary gets at its Apple Valley hospital come from Victorville and Hesperia, Garrett said.
“I live in Pinon Hills so I think the new hospital will be so much closer for my family,” Gail Entriken posted on the Daily Press website. “It brings peace to my mind knowing a hospital will be closer.”
Administrators at St. Mary came up with the idea of building a new hospital in 2005 when they were assessing local health care conditions, Garrett said.
While hundreds of thousands of people migrated to the Victor Valley seeking affordable housing, the desert community didn’t have enough hospitals to serve them. One third of local residents traveled out of the area to see doctors at the time, according to St. Mary.
“At that point, we began the process of thinking, ‘How do we address that?’ ” Garrett said.
The new hospital is expected to become a trauma center equipped to provide emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries. Between 440 and 480 trauma patients get transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center or Arrowhead Regional Medical Center every year from the High Desert, Garrett said.
The High Desert is located in the longest stretch without a trauma center in the contiguous United States, Garrett said.
After building new medical facilities and infrastructure, St. Mary plans to start adding wellness facilities and retail space on the campus.
John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, told the crowd Tuesday about the economic impact of the $261 million Oasis project.
Construction accounts for half of the jobs lost in the Inland Empire during the recession, Husing said, and the Oasis project is expected to create 1,235 construction jobs over four years. St. Mary hired seven local contractors for the project, according to McEachron.
“A major project like this, one of the few hospitals built in California, is hugely important to that particular part of our economy and to the High Desert,” Husing said.http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/victorville-36781-mary-breaks.html