Hospitals expanding operations in Angels Camp

By Michael Kay, The Union Democrat July 26, 2010 11:31 am

    Two months after Sonora Regional Medical Center announced plans open a facility in Angels Camp, Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital has picked out a plot of land for a new, expanded campus in the city.
    By fall of next year, the San Andreas-based hospital hopes to open the doors on a 12,000-square foot building on a 4.2-acre property at the corner of Main Street and Stanislaus Avenue.
        Their colleagues from across the river, meanwhile, are hoping to cut the ribbon by this fall on a new Prompt Care facility in the Prudential Building at the intersection of Highways 4 and 49.
    One regional hospital doubling down on its southern outpost and the other moving north has city officials pleased.
    “What is really impressive to me is to see both of the regional hospitals expanding their facilities,” said Mayor Jack Lynch.
    The hospitals given different reasons for placing their chips on the roughly 3,600-population community, but both say their expansions have been in the works for several years.
    For Mark Twain St. Joseph’s, the decision is mostly about space. The hospital’s two current locations are ill-designed for health care and have become inadequate for the patient load, according to hospital spokesman Larry Cornish.
    “We have split at the seams and the community is ready for a project of this scope,” said hospital president Feliciano Jiron in a statement.
    The hospital plans to construct three buildings on its new site, for a total of 45,000 square-feet of medical offices. The first will house a women’s health resource center, as well as diagnostic imaging and laboratory services.
    The $3.4-million structure may also include some services the hospital’s patients have not previously been able to receive in Angels Camp.
    The building is being evaluated for physical therapy or occupational therapy facilities, which will definitely have a place somewhere on campus, Cornish said.
    What other new services the other two buildings bring has not been decided. Possibilities include endoscopy, dermatology and other specialty care, as well as potentially renting space to private practitioners.
    “The palette is wide open right now,” Cornish said.
    The project is a product of a partnership between the hospital, the Health Care District and the Hospital Foundation, which is funding the project.
    Coming to Angels Camp, for Sonora Regional, was about following its customers.
    “We are seeing a large number of residents from Calaveras County in our Prompt Care. We’d like to be able to help serve that population closer to their home,” said hospital spokeswoman Gail Witzlsteiner.
    Cornish says his hospital takes no offense to their southern neighbors jumping the river.
    “We don’t see it as competition. We see it as a choice for the residents of Angels Camp,” he said.
    They may even return the favor. Besides scouting possible locations in Lockeford, in San Joaquin County, the hospital has been considering opening a family medical center in the Tuolumne County community of Columbia.
    It would be their first location outside of Calaveras County.

    Contact Michael Kay at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 890-7477.