By JOSHUA WOLFSON
Jan. 14 is the date set for patients to move from Sonora Community Hospital to the new Sonora Regional Medical Center.
More than a year of planning has gone into the move, said hospital spokeswoman Gail Witzlsteiner.
"We will move all the patients within probably a few hours' time," she said.
To ease things, the hospital will not schedule elective surgeries on the days leading up to transfer. Hospital employees will begin bringing supplies and equipment to the center a few weeks before the patients move in.
"When the patients arrive, we can't still be moving supplies into the hospital," she said.
Hospital Building and Equipment Corp., the firm constructing the Greenley Road medical center, will turn over the building to hospital staff at the end of this month, when work is to be finished. Getting the necessary operating permits should take another eight to 10 weeks, she said.
"We anticipate being ready to move right around the holidays," Witzlsteiner said. But to allow hospital employees to spend those days with their families, they will move into their new work stations in the days that follow.
A community grand opening for the medical center is set for Jan. 11.
A closure ceremony for the old hospital is also planned for those with ties to the old Forest Road campus or have lost loved ones there, Witzlsteiner said. A date for that ceremony has not been set, and an official decision on what will become of the old hospital has not been made, though turning it into a skilled-nursing facility has been discussed.
Construction on the $47 million project began in October 2000. When completed, the medical center will offer more beds than Sonora Community Hospital and new cardiac care and cancer services.