Modesto City Council Approves Kaiser Permanente Hospital Plan
After a four-and-a-half-hour meeting and public hearing, the Modesto City Council on Tuesday voted 7-0 to approve Kaiser Permanente's plan to build a 49-acre medical campus that would include 250 beds, the Modesto Bee reports. The campus, which would initially employ about 1,800 people and cost $500 million, would include the first full-service hospital built in Modesto in 34 years (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 8/11). The Modesto Planning Commission last month voted 4-0 to approve the project, which would serve 130,000 Kaiser members in Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties.
Kaiser has reconfigured the arrangement of buildings on the site to address some neighbors' concerns. The campus would generate nearly 25,000 additional vehicle trips each day in an area noted for its congested roads. Alita Roberts, chair of the planning commission, has said that Kaiser has sufficiently addressed the traffic problems its campus would create (California Healthline, 7/22). Kaiser also has agreed to minimize noise by having ambulances cut their sirens near the hospital. Kaiser has agreed to pay about $25 million to correct problems identified in an environmental study, including $9 million for transportation improvements in Stanislaus County. Kaiser representatives said that the $25 million figure is six times as much as the amount the HMO paid for a hospital project in Los Angeles.
However, Thomas Dumas of the Department of Transportation said Kaiser plans to open the campus before the state completes a project to widen a nearby highway, a situation that will exacerbate traffic congestion for a time. Other residents also expressed concerns that the project would "snarl traffic on northwest Modesto streets and at key interchanges" of a nearby highway, the Bee reports. City council member Janice Keating said the highway widening should be complete by the time Kaiser's campus opens, adding, "It angers me when another agency comes in and tells us we are not doing our part."
Kaiser is looking to receive approval of the land annexation for the project from the Local Agency Formation Commission on Sept. 22. The company hopes to start construction this fall and plans to open the hospital in late 2007 or early 2008 (Modesto Bee, 8/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.