Groundbreaking held for pavilion

By Lacey Peterson, The Union Democrat

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Tuesday for Sonora Regional Medical Center's new $20 million Outpatient Pavilion and Cancer Center, to be built at the corner of Greenley Road and Mono Way.

The property, where the future Diana J. White Cancer Institute will be built, was purchased by the hospital in 2013 after Andy's Home Center closed.

The Pavilion and Cancer Institute will be a three-story, 64,000-square- foot facility.

Andrew Jahn, Sonora Regional president and CEO, said the services offered will be on par with university medical centers. It will house a state-of-the-art cancer center with diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, laboratory and primary care services. It will offer medical oncology, radiation oncology and an infusion center.

Dr. Brenda Forrest, hospital chief of staff, said the center will have an enhanced efficiency that will reduce patient wait times.

The exam tables in the center will be able to lower to the floor, so patients won't have to struggle to get up onto high exam tables, she said.

Demolition of the Andy's building will start on Aug. 3, said Gail Witzlsteiner, hospital spokeswoman and executive director of the Sonora Regional Foundation.

In addition to the cost of the cancer center, $10 million will be spent to renovate the hospital main campus space and emergency department, and $6 million has been budgeted for new equipment.

Adventist Health gave the hospital $29 million and asked that the community donate $3 million. So far, the foundation has raised $1.8 million and hopes to reach $3 million by the end of 2015, Witzlsteiner said. The remainder of the project will be financed from $4 million in reserves.

Randolph and Betty Holder donated $250,000 in cash and $250,000 in a legacy gift, and the family of the late Joe Martin donated $250,000.

Other donors include Sierra Emergency Medical Group, Dr. James and Bonnie Comazzi, Micro-Tronics, hospital volunteers, Ron and Rickey Woodall and Yosemite Pathology Group. The largest single community donation was an estate gift from George White, of Groveland, who will donate $3.3 million in honor of his late wife, Diana J. White, who died of cancer Nov. 6, 2011.

The hospital will donate the fixtures from Andy's to various community organizations, and its cooling units will be given to the High Country Sports Arena, Witzlsteiner said.

Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller said the city and county have worked together to mitigate traffic issues around the Mono Way/Greenley Road intersection and plan to buy the Chevron gas station on the corner to put in a right-turn lane at the intersection. It will be a $3 million project.

Miller said he hopes work will be completed by the time the new center is complete.

The new Pavilion and Cancer Institute is slated for completion by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

The expansion will allow the hospital to shift its cancer and outpatient services to the Andy's property and have more room to serve acute patients at the main hospital.

The hospital was built in 2004 and designed to serve 20,000 patients a year. In that time, the county's other hospital closed. Sonora Regional sees 36,000 patients a year, Jahn said.

The expansion will provide local jobs to contractors who will do the building and renovations, and the Cancer Institute will provide at least 20 new hospital jobs once it opens, Witzlsteiner said.

Adventist Health required the hospital to ensure that 70 percent of the projects are completed using local labor and local supplies, Witzlsteiner said.

Discover Life Sonora Seventh-Day Adventist Church pastor Nathan Renner gave the invocation for the groundbreaking Tuesday.

"We pray this space could be a beacon of hope, love and life for those in the community who are suffering and need healing," Renner said.

The hospital and the community share a goal, Jahn said.

"A vision to beat the odds and win the fight against cancer in the foothills," Jahn said. "This allows us to grow and expand and meet our community need."

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The Union Democrat
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