New plans ahead for old hospital site




The most important events of many peoples' lives birth, death, illness and healing occurred at Sonora Community Hospital on South Forest Road next to Sonora Seventh-day Adventist Church.

On Jan. 14, Adventist Health will close the old hospital and open the new Sonora Regional Medical Center on Greenley Road.

The public is invited to a closing ceremony on Jan. 18. Time and details have yet to be set.

It will be a chance for people who have sentimental attachments to say goodbye, said hospital spokeswoman Gail Witzlsteiner. People expected to attend include employees, many of whom worked there for decades, and former patients.

The old campus will continue to serve a purpose, though.

"We are not thinking of selling," she said. "We hope to have a strategic plan in place by next summer about what we will do with it, but right now we have had to focus our resources on the new hospital."

Departments not moving include accounting, transitional care and the long-term-care units and maintenance and construction.

Because of the move, she said, there might be 12 new long-term-care beds available right away.

Witzlsteiner said there has been talk about turning a portion of the old campus into an assisted living center where people can move into higher levels of skilled-nursing care.

The only problem with that option, she said, is that it would cost $4 million just to remodel, given today's government standards. It would only cost $500,000 more to tear the old building down and start over, she said.

The old Sonora Community Hospital, including Sierra Birth Center, is contained in about 60,000 square feet on 8 acres, not including the old Sonora Medical Group physicians' offices, said Don Humphries, director of plant services.

That compares to about 120,000 square feet at the new, 6-acre site, not including physicians' offices.

Sonora Community Hospital was founded July 7, 1957, by Dr. Ben Boice and Drs. Paul and Helen Anspach.

The Union Democrat
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