Residents remain skeptical of renovations
This February, UC Davis Health (UCDH) released a $3.75 billion plan to rebuild and expand its medical center in Sacramento, “California Tower.” The new construction will consist of a 16-story hospital building and a five-story pavilion while also demolishing buildings that no longer meet seismic safety standards.
The construction is projected to last until November 2030 and will double the facility’s square footage, according to the university’s press release on Feb. 26.
“In the not-too-distant future, fewer people per capita will need to be hospitalized due to evolving health technologies, same-day surgeries, telehealth visits and being able to remotely monitor a patient’s vital signs,” said Davis Lubarsky, the CEO of UC Davis Health. “However, those individuals who do require hospitalization will likely require longer stays for complex surgeries or other critical care services, such as trauma care, that we provide.”
Although the square footage will double, the number of beds will only increase by 12%—from 625 to 700—since most of the new beds will be in private rooms, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. The new rooms will be “acuity adaptable,” meaning they can easily be converted into intensive care unit (ICU) beds in an emergency, raising the number of possible ICU beds at the hospital to 450.
According to the UC Davis Health press release, “the core of our everyday mission is to increase the health of the community overall.”
However, in 2018 the journal “Academic Medicine” reported, “While Medi-Cal beneficiaries account for nearly 40% of hospital discharges, UCDH currently provides care to fewer Medi-Cal inpatients than one of its three private nonprofit health system competitors and provides fewer Medi-Cal emergency department visits than all three of its local competitors.”
This also comes at a time when UC Davis is battling a lawsuit about the environmental impact of the Aggie Square, a housing project that is being built in the same neighborhood.
Bill Motmans is a former member of the Aggie Square Community Engagement Advisory Committee and current board member of Sacramento Investment Without Displacement, the group filing the lawsuit. Motmans, along with other community members in Sacramento Investment Without Displacement, said he’s not satisfied with how UC Davis has implemented these projects.
“None of the people working on these projects live in the neighborhoods [being affected],” Motmans said via email. “Most of them don’t even live in Sacramento.”
The university expects the hospital expansion to create thousands of new health care positions for the local community, but UC Davis has yet to reveal a plan to house these thousands of new employees coming to the area.
According to the lawsuit, the project would increase the UC Davis Sacramento Campus population by 7,700, while only providing enough housing for 411 new on-campus residents.
“It’s not our intent to derail this project, we’re not trying to do that,” Motmans said. “Sacramento Investment Without Displacement just wants to make sure these communities don’t become so gentrified they’re no longer recognized.”
Written by: Wm. Schroedter Kinman — firstname.lastname@example.org