APPLE VALLEY, Calif. (VVNG.com) — Kaiser Permanente and Providence Southern California announced plans to build a new 260-bed hospital in Victorville that would replace St. Mary’s Medical Center in Apple Valley, pending regulatory review and approval.
According to a Providence news release, the existing hospital in Apple Valley does not meet the more stringent state seismic requirements that take effect in 2030 and it would be neither financially nor operationally feasible to bring it into compliance.
The hospital will be built on approximately 100 acres of land purchased in 2007 for a new St. Mary Medical Center campus on Amargosaa road between Bear Valley Road and Main Street. Providence said it will work with the community to determine the future of the existing Apple Valley site.
Officials said the High Desert community, including its Kaiser Permanente members, will be able to access the new hospital, which is expected to open in 2026.
“The High Desert community is growing, and we must advance how we deliver health care to meet the changing needs of our community,” said Bill Caswell, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
Unfortunately, California earthquake laws that require hospitals to make costly building upgrades by 2030 may leave Apple Valley without a hospital or emergency room.
The Town of Apple Valley released a response in regards to the departure of St Mary’s Medical Center and Mayor Curt Emick called the news “extremely disappointing”.
“The Town is asking Providence to recognize the commitment of the people who pursued the original fundraising to bring St. Mary Medical Center to fruition, and the fundraising of so many supporters over the years, to keep the hospital open or replace it with one in Apple Valley,” stated Emick.
Town officials said the hospital’s departure will leave the community significantly further from any emergency room and critical care services. And they would support and assist, to the extent possible, any course of action that results in the building of a local replacement that meets the new earthquake standards.
St. Mary Medical Center was dedicated in November 1956 and has been a hub of community health in Apple Valley for nearly 65 years. Thanks in part to numerous community and corporate donors who rallied to build and retain the local hospital, it has grown from its origins as a 29-bed acute care and maternity facility to a 213-bed premier medical center.
Providence officials said the new hospital will retain its Catholic identity and continue to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic health care. “Kaiser Permanente will continue to arrange for the provision of all the health services for its patients. Both organizations respect one another’s philosophy of health care practices,” stated the release.
“This partnership will combine the resources and care networks of both our organizations to provide high quality, affordable health care in the High Desert for years to come,” stated Dr. Gregory Kelman, Regional Medical Director, Operations, for Southern California Permanente Medical Group.
Providence St. Mary Chief Executive Randy Castillo will maintain his leadership position. Providence will continue to have primary responsibility for operational oversight, with input from Kaiser Permanente.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit our community so hard, highlighted the need for a new hospital that will meet our area’s growing health care needs,” Castillo said. “We sought a partner that shares our goals and our vision to increase access to care, especially in under-served communities.”
Both organizations are committed to meeting the needs of this underserved region by expanding access to quality and affordable care. The city of Victorville, the largest in the High Desert, has a 22.8 percent poverty rate, which is high compared to state and national averages and includes vulnerable populations that experience health disparities.
Victorville Mayor Debra Jones welcomes the new hospital and the level of care it’s expected to bring to the Victor Valley. “Providence and Kaiser Permanente are industry-leading healthcare providers and their partnership no doubt will expand options for medical care that is certain to improve the quality of life in our region,” stated Jones. “We can’t help but be excited by their investment in the well-being of our High Desert residents.”
Providence and Kaiser Permanente continue to work with state and local officials to address any concerns and to obtain the necessary approvals for the hospital campus.
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