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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Goleta Valley Cottage: The Time Has Come

Countdown Starts for Building Big New Hospital

By Silvia Uribe

They expect to have it finished in about 28 months. Right now, a new parking lot is being built across the street from the existing Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, to supplement the existing parking space, which the new building will occupy. "The reason that we're building a completely new hospital is because we want to be compliant with the present seismic legislation," explained Diane Wisby, Cottage Hospital's vice president. "In the past all we needed was to make sure that all our patients could be evacuated. With the new legislation, and in the new building, the hospital will be a place where people can go to in the event of an earthquake."

Wisby has worked at Cottage Hospital for the last 16 years. During our conversation, she gave me a very human perspective of the Goleta Cottage. "We have a very low turnover with our employees. Many people have worked here for more than 20 years. We have a group of 35 to 40 doctors (aka admitters) who regularly send their patients here. We all know each other very well, like the family we are."

Wisby took me to her office and explained to me in great detail the particulars about the new hospital:

"It is going to be a two-story building," she pointed out, as she showed me the floor distribution map, and a drawing of the modern new building. "When the board decided to go ahead with this project, they had three main things in mind: a) the privacy of the patient, b) once the patient arrives at the hospital, to be able to go where the patient is, as opposed to moving the patient around, and c) not to duplicate services when unnecessary. Our two hospitals are only seven miles apart, so we can direct patients where they need to go."

She noted that the first floor will have a main lobby, the E.R. will have as few as eight and as many as 20 possible treatment rooms (depending on the needs at any given time on any given day), an outpatient therapy area, and an outpatient wound center.

The first floor will also house six operating rooms and an endoscopy suite. She showed me a couple of areas whose use is undetermined. "These will allow for flexibility based on the needs of our patients."

On the second floor there will be 44 medical/surgical beds, and eight short-stay beds in the progressive center, which is midrange between intensive care and regular care. Also located on the second floor: Inpatient physical therapy, the respiratory unit, several administrative offices, a kitchen, a dining room, a waiting area, a patio, and some conference rooms for the hospital's use and the use of other nonprofit organizations.

Janet O'Neil, who is Cottage's public affairs director, and Maria Zate, marketing manager, joined us, and I asked them why the community should feel confident that Goleta Cottage Hospital is a five-star health services provider. Their response was immediate. They each told me about what they called their "points of pride."

Other than their first-class medical staff, they said, for the last three years Cottage has had two hyperbaric chambers, which speed up the healing process of wounds. In the new wound center, Goleta will have four of these chambers.

Another point of pride is the Maxillofacial program. This is not a cosmetic program. It is for congenital anomalies. Many people have benefited from it and can now have a normal life.

They also told me about a program to treat sleep apnea that they said is very successful. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing when they are sleeping. The severity of the problem varies from person to person, but in extreme cases, it could lead to death if not treated.

They are also very proud of their orthopedic service, which is different from the Santa Barbara trauma service. "Here's an example of avoiding duplication of services," O'Neil said. "When an accident happens and someone, say, breaks a bone playing football, we ask the ambulance to take the person directly to Santa Barbara Cottage, where the trauma center is located. Here at Goleta Cottage, we see scheduled cases only." Another example: expecting moms know they should go to the birth center located at Santa Barbara Cottage when the time to have their babies come. For wound treatment, or for sleep apnea, people are directed to Goleta Cottage."

Before we ended our conversation, they mentioned that the new building will have 153,000 square feet, which is a considerable increase over the present building's 87,000 square feet. The price of this modern new building is locked in at $103 million, which means that if there is any variation in materials prices, the hospital won't have to pay more. They have also considered room for expansion to the sides, if in the future the need more usable space increases.

With all of these improvements in the building and the services, plus the new medical building (for doctors' offices) that will be constructed adjacent to the new hospital, the Goleta Cottage Hospital will position itself in the avant-garde of the 21st century health care industry.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at the

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