Groundbreaking Marks Major Step for North County Hospital Expansion

Facility to more than double emergency room size

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Expansion plans at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas took a major step forward with today’s groundbreaking of a Critical Care Building, which will more than double the size of the hospital’s current emergency department and increase the number of medical-surgical beds by 43 percent.


The Critical Care Building is the centerpiece of the hospital’s $94 million second phase of expansion, which also includes a new central energy plant and various infrastructure improvements on and around the medical campus.

Meeting the health care needs of North County

The population of the hospital’s surrounding area has increased by more than 20 percent during the past decade, according to the San Diego Association of Governments. During the same time period, the overall number of annual patient visits to the hospital has also increased by more than 20 percent. The Critical Care Building will be the first patient care facility to be built at Scripps Encinitas since 1992.


“This expansion will help fill a critical community need by broadening our staff’s capacity to treat a growing number of patients,” said Chris Van Gorder, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Health. “Our patients will notice a more comfortable and private environment and our staff will have more space to deliver care with even greater efficiency.”


The Critical Care Building and central energy plant are being built on the site of a former parking lot on the southwest part of the hospital campus. Totaling 61,643 square feet, the two-story Critical Care Building is expected to be open for patient care by early summer 2014.


The Critical Care Building’s first floor will house a 27-bed emergency department, with all private rooms for greater patient confidentiality and comfort. The new facility will replace Scripps Encinitas’ current 12-bed emergency department.


“This new building is much needed, especially when you consider that the number of annual patient visits to our emergency department has grown by more than 50 percent

during the past decade,” said Thomas Chippendale, MD, the hospital’s chief of staff.


The Critical Care Building’s second floor will be home to 36 medical-surgical inpatient beds, which are used by patients who are recovering from surgery or are recuperating from acute illnesses. Medical-surgical beds are also used by those admitted as inpatients via the emergency department—and since approximately 70 percent of the hospital’s inpatients are admitted through the ER, having more of these beds available will help improve the flow of emergency care.

Expanded inpatient care

All medical-surgical beds will be in private rooms and will offer window views and ample space so friends and family can visit or stay overnight. The 36 new medical-surgical beds will represent an addition to the hospital’s existing quantity of 83. Medical-surgical beds constitute the largest category of inpatient beds at Scripps Encinitas. Inpatient beds are also found in the hospital’s intensive care unit, rehabilitation department and mother-baby pavilion.


“With our existing space constraints and the rising volume of patients, we’ve been operating at maximum capacity for several years now,” said Dr. Ron MacCormick, a 32-year veteran of Scripps and medical director of the hospital’s emergency department. “This expansion will bring our facilities in line with the future needs of the community.”


Technology inside the Critical Care Building will include new MRI, CT scanner and diagnostic X-ray units. All patient rooms on both floors will also have access to a telemetry system to provide continuous wireless monitoring of patient vital signs.


The Critical Care Building also will offer improved access for first responders, with six ambulance bays—triple the number currently available. The roof will include a helipad, which will be used primarily for transporting patients out of the hospital to a designated trauma center, or for transporting newborns in distress to Rady Children’s Hospital.


The project also includes construction of a 10,678-square-foot, high-efficiency central energy plant, which will be the new primary source of utilities serving future patient care facilities on campus.

A comforting place to heal

A series of garden areas for families and staff are designed as part of the ground level between the new building and existing hospital. A terraced roof garden on the building’s second level will be planted with drought-tolerant native grasses and succulents, offering a green buffer from the hospital roof. This green roof will also capture and use rainwater falling on the roof to create non-medical oxygen, while lowering the temperature of warm spots. Other roof areas are treated with a white reflective material to minimize heat gain.


The building is designed to reflect its coastline setting. The west-facing exterior will feature a series of panels that resemble sails on the water, while the east-facing side will include landscaped gardens and planted terraces reminiscent of the nearby hillsides. The interior design will carry a beach theme, with sand-colored flooring and countertops with sea shell accents. Interior walls will feature glass accent tiles and colors in blues, greens and whites, to evoke the tranquility of the ocean.

Fundraising initiative to improve hospital access

Costs to build and equip the campus expansion will be funded through a combination of philanthropic gifts, income from operations and debt financing.


Scripps recently launched a grassroots campaign to encourage donations from local residents to support this important expansion. This public fundraising drive—the 354 Campaign—seeks to raise $1 million in donations ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 to complement Scripps’ ongoing philanthropic outreach efforts.


Whiting-Turner Contracting is the general contractor for the Critical Care Building, and Perkins + Will is the architect. The project is expected to create approximately 200 jobs at the peak of construction.


The first phase of expansion at Scripps Encinitas included construction of an 884-space parking structure, which opened in spring 2011. As part of the second phase of expansion, Scripps will provide more than $4 million in public infrastructure improvements at the requirement of the city of Encinitas. These include enhancements to Devonshire Drive and the southbound Interstate 5 off-ramp at Santa Fe Drive. The master plan for expansion at Scripps Encinitas was approved in 2009 by the city of Encinitas.

About Scripps Health

Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system based in San Diego, Calif.

Media Contact

Stephen Carpowich
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