Mission Hospital’s Tower 2. State-of-the-art addition

[Editor’s note, 8/10/12: As we note a large and unexpected spike in readership of this article today, we just want readers to note that this article is from 1/16/10.  We have no idea if anything significant has changed in the interventing 2-1/2 years.  You can see the latest news, analysis, and fripperies by clicking the masthead.]

In the process of my auditing projected sales and use taxes to the city of Mission Viejo related to the recent expansion of St. Joseph’s Mission Hospital, I interfaced with Senior V.P. and CFO Kenneth D. McFarland. As a result of that contact Mr. McFarland introduced me to Mrs. Kelsey Martinez, Mission Hospital’s Marketing & Media Relations Manager, who, in addition to getting me the requested data, provided information on their recently opened patient care tower last week and took me on a tour of this state-of-the-art addition yesterday.

As Kelsey and I walked across the hospital parking lot from her office to this 94,000 square foot, four story tower, we passed a camera crew from COX Communications that just concluded a “shoot” of the hospital that hopefully will include this campus addition.
The lower level tower wing signage as seen from the driveway entrance reads “Swenson Family Linear Accelerator Suite” in recognition of the Swenson Family, a major donor to this added hospital wing.

How many thousands of south county residents drive past Mission Hospital every day yet have no idea of the advanced patient care tower in this Crown Jewel located a few hundred yards from the Shops at Mission Viejo between Marguerite and Crown Valley Parkways?

The cover page of our January 1, 2010 Saddleback Valley News/OC Register is a “2009 Year in Review” of Mission Viejo. While the reporter includes our opening two fast food establishments, Sonic Drive Thru and TK Burgers, yet not a peep about Tower 2 of the Hospital that opened in Nov can be found. I told the Register Team Leader that I was disappointed by their oversight of this achievement and that it warranted coverage.

Exactly one year ago, in their Jan 14, 2009 issue, the LA Times reported that “hospitals feel the ill effects of the recession” which makes this Mission Hospital expansion so noteworthy. The Times story reads in part: “Financial analysts and insiders expect the turmoil to accelerate a shakeout.”The weaker hospitals will continue to get weaker in a bad economy, and the stronger hospitals will find a way to survive and build market share,” said Chris Van Gorder, chief executive of Scripps Health, a nonprofit chain of five hospitals in San Diego County. Most alarming to hospital administrators, healthcare advocates and patients are the financial, economic and government crises all hitting at once. Hospitals are facing a “triple whammy,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a patient advocacy organization. “You have the healthcare safety net seeing more uninsured people in the system at the same time employers are scaling back coverage. At the same time, the state is seeking to further cut healthcare programs.” Just about every hospital is affected in one way or another.”

While I cannot find current data, 23 Californian hospitals closed between 1995 and 2000 which predates the current recession.

After getting a visitor badge, Kelsey took me on a tour of Tower 2 beginning with their 45 seat first floor Chapel which leads out to the Schumacher Healing Garden with benches for family to be comforted and a time of reflection.
While we did not go into the area to see their state-of-the-art linear accelerator the hospital brochure states that it “provides advanced cancer treatment through pointed radiation. Cancer cells are destroyed more effectively and efficiently through high energy x-rays applied directly to the patients tumor. The precision and individualization of the linear accelerator means that the patient can receive higher dosages of radiation directly to the cancerous cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.”

As all imaging services are on the first floor Mrs. Martinez escorted me to the glass window where I saw and took a photo of  a truly state of the art machine that uses molecular imaging. This equipment, manufactured by Siemens, is called a Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, (SPECT).

According to the hospital brochure this machine “uses nuclear medicine to produce 3D images that show how organs work (e.g. blood flow to the heart or brain activity). The most common uses for SPECT are diagnosis of heart, brain or cancer diseases.”

Another of our photo stops was at a room containing their Dual Source CT system. The brochure points out that “today’s newest computer-tomography (CT) innovation is an ideal tool for one-stop diagnosis in acute care imaging, including the assessment of patients with chest pain, abdominal pain and suspicion of stroke.”

The third floor of the building, houses a 20 bed Surgical Intensive Care Unit, SICU, named the Zimmer Neuroscience Wing, in recognition of another major donor. We were permitted to walk into one of the vacant rooms where Kelsey pointed out all of the new amenities. Each of the rooms are very bright due to all of the glass windows.

We entered one of these large suites where Mrs. Martinez showed my a wand that controls rotation of ceiling lighting as the nurses work on the patients. Let me not overlook that each of these suites contains a sleep couch for family members wishing to stay with their loved ones.

Our final stop was to the fourth floor which is “home to the Progressive Care and Stroke, PCSU.”  “This 24 bed unit is designed to care for patients that no longer require critical care but still significant attention.” We were fortunate to see the head nurse who shared some information on their patient care.

While each stroke patient case is different the average stay in this wing could be from four to seven days.
“For its breadth of advance stroke treatment options and comprehensive care through recovery and rehabilitation, the PCSU has received national Primary Stroke Center accreditation and regional designation as a Primary Stroke-Neurology Receiving Center.”

While we surely don’t wish anyone to suffer a stroke, traumatic brain injury or be confronted by any form of cancer, I feel that Tower 2 at Mission Hospital is staffed and equipped to provide top notch medical care as the need arises.

While this report covers the Tower 2 addition, I would be remiss not to point out that Mission Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center

While almost every politician abuses the phrase “quality of  life”  Mission Hospital “walks the talk” in their advanced care and treatment of patients.

PS: McCarthy Building Company completed this $153 million dollar project early while the widening of Crown Valley Parkway was over one year late and who knows the cost overrrun.

About Larry Gilbert