Construction of $1 Billion "Hospital of the Future" has Been Completed: Move-in Phase Begins at new High-Tech, Green Palomar Medical Center in Northern San Diego County

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Project employed nearly 6,000 people during construction phase; will employ thousands more when it opens Aug. 19. Palomar Health, largest public health district in California, built the hospital with future in mind; high-tech, green hospital will open with 288 beds; will expand to 600 in future.

New Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California

The building is complete. We are able to start the next phase of transformation and that is moving from building to training our staff to deliver the highest quality of health care today, says Michael H. Covert, Palomar Health CEO

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Construction of the new 11-story, 740,000-square-foot Palomar Medical Center has officially ended. The architecturally advanced, very green “Hospital of the Future” has been built and passed state inspection. Nearly 6,000 people were involved in the construction phase, mostly local residents.

“The building is complete. We are able to start the next phase of transformation and that is moving from building to training our staff to deliver the highest quality of health care today,” says Michael H. Covert, President and Chief Executive Officer of Palomar Health, the largest public health district in California. “There is much work ahead but I am proud of our efforts on behalf of the citizens of the communities we serve,” Covert adds.

Dr. David Tam, the Palomar Health chief administrative officer who oversaw construction of the massive project made the historic announcement at the April 9 monthly meeting of the Palomar Health Board of Directors. He presented board members with a framed original copy of the certificate of completion. “This is now truly our home,” he said.

The new 288-bed hospital will be named Palomar Medical Center. It had been referred to as Palomar Medical Center West. The hospital has attracted national attention because of is forward-looking design: patient-centric rooms, nursing alcoves outside each patient room, strong emphasis on new technology and sustainability and the use of natural light and greenery as part of the healing process. Patient rooms are flexible and will be able to accommodate various levels of acuity.

The existing Palomar Medical Center on East Valley Parkway in Downtown Escondido, which was built in 1950, will be renamed Palomar Health Downtown Campus and will specialize in women’s, children’s, behavioral health, rehabilitation services..

Construction of the new Palomar Medical Center officially ended on Thursday, April 5. That’s when the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) granted the Palomar Health district a temporary certificate of occupancy, meaning the building passed state inspection. The move-in phase began on Tuesday, April 10 with equipment and furniture being delivered to the new hospital.

Board members congratulated everyone who worked on the construction phase of the project and thanked district residents for supporting the building of the first new hospital in North County in more than 30 years.

The $956-million hospital was financed in large part by Proposition BB, a $496-milliion bond measure that district voters overwhelmingly passed in 2004.

“It’s been eight years since we passed Proposition BB and now we are finally going to be occupying the new hospital,” Board Chairman T.E. (Ted) Kleiter says. “We’re looking forward to the move in and setting up the hospital, and for the community celebration on July 28 and the eventual move in on Aug. 19,” he adds.

Over the next few months, staff will be trained, equipment and furniture will be installed and licensing will occur. Palomar Health will be seeking licensing to operate the new hospital through the California Department of Public Health. Palomar Health has set Aug. 19 as the targeted date for opening the new hospital and treating the first patients.

Palomar Health plans to hold a Community/Employee Grand Opening Celebration on July 28 at the new hospital at 2185 Citracado Parkway. The district employs about 4,000 people and is affiliated with more than 800 physicians.

Construction of the new hospital began in December, 2007. It is the largest construction project in the history of Escondido and for a few years, it was the largest hospital construction project in California.

Nearly 6,000 people were involved in the construction of the hospital, located on a 56-acre site in the Escondido Research and Technology Center near state Route 78 and the Interstate 15 freeway. Construction helped boost the local economy during a period of high unemployment in the region.

Twenty-five million pounds of structural steel and 5 million feet of electrical cable were used during construction.

Los Angeles-based CO Architects, a nationally recognized architecture firm, designed the hospital building with significant input from physicians, staff and district leaders. The San Diego office of DPR Construction, a top general contractor in the country, managed construction.

The hospital was designed to accommodate future advancements in technology and will support electronic medical record keeping and an array of wired and wireless technologies used by physicians and staff.

The new Palomar Medical Center features a 120-bed West Tower and 168-bed East Tower and will have the capacity to expand to 600 beds in the future.

The Trauma Center and Emergency Department are among the services that are moving from the existing downtown Palomar Medical Center to the new hospital. The expanded ED will have 44 treatment rooms, which is 19 more than currently available at the downtown hospital.

About Palomar Health: Palomar Health, California’s largest public health district by area, provides services to an 800-plus square-mile area with more than 500,000 residents. It currently operates two hospitals, two skilled nursing facilities, two outpatient health buildings and other facilities. For more information about Palomar Health, formerly Palomar Pomerado Health, please visit

About DPR: DPR Construction, a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager specializing in technically complex and sustainable projects. A privately-held company, DPR has grown to more than $1 billion in annual revenue, with $185 million in the San Diego region. For more information about DPR, visit

About CO Architects: CO Architects is a nationally recognized architecture firm, specializing in healthcare, academic, science and technology architectural planning, programming and design. The firm’s experience ranges from existing facility evaluations to new, comprehensive medical campuses. For more information about CO Architects, visit

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Leonel Sanchez
Palomar Pomerado Health
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