UC Davis Health clears the way for $3.5 billion tower

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UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky helps with demolition of temporary buildings (UC Davis Health image)

UC Davis Health started clearing the way on May 9 for what will be the region’s most advanced hospital tower – the UC Davis Medical Center’s California Tower.

Crews started demolition of multiple temporary buildings on the site of the future tower. It’s a necessary step to make the site ready for a California Tower groundbreaking in 2023 and open to patients in 2030, the university said in a statement.

The $3.75 billion tower is a replacement for existing parts of the hospital that must be closed due to state seismic laws.  Approved by the UC Board of Regents in January, the tower will be added to the eastern side of the existing UC Davis Medical Center. It will feature a 14-story hospital tower and five-story pavilion, adding to a hospital complex that has been expanding eastward and serving the neighborhoods at this location for over 150 years.

california tower uc health davis rendering“This project incorporates lessons from the pandemic and those lessons will help us to deliver superior care for Northern Californians for the next 50 years,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health. “The California Tower will triple our ICU capability, making half of our patient rooms ICU-ready. This investment will be a cornerstone in the critical care we provide our patients and the region moving forward.”

The project is partly the result of state seismic safety mandates, which put a deadline on hospitals to either upgrade their existing facilities or construct new buildings.

The California Tower adds to the Medical Center’s existing University and Davis Towers and will add approximately one million square feet of additional space. It will include operating rooms, an imaging center, an expanded pharmacy, additional burn care units, and about 400 single-patient rooms.

The new rooms will replace others being taken out of service in older parts of the building. With 646 beds currently, the UC Davis Medical Center will continue to be the largest hospital in the Sacramento area. It will have a total of 675-700 inpatient beds when the project is completed.

More than 250 of the rooms are being designed for greater flexibility in the event of a patient surge such as during a pandemic, massive wildfire, radiation leak or other major event. These adaptable rooms will easily convert into intensive-care-unit rooms with air isolation so that they could be used to care for patients of any level of hospitalization.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, embracing the unexpected is a common theme in medicine,” said Lubarsky. “Having the adaptability of patient rooms to meet a critical care surge means these new facilities will be positioned to meet the region’s needs for the next 50 years.”

The California Tower project is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and thousands of new health care positions for the surrounding community, a benefit of being home to an anchor institution like UC Davis Medical Center. Anchor institutions are place-based, mission-driven entities like universities and hospitals that leverage economic power alongside human and intellectual resources to improve the long-term health and social welfare of surrounding communities.

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