January 16, 2023
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Cottage Hospital showcases new building


Six years after breaking ground, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is hosting an open house this weekend to show off one of the most expensive construction projects in the history of Santa Barbara County.

The 370,000 square-foot building is the latest addition to a $700 million construction project to rebuild the entire hospital. Hospital officials say that with the newest facility, located at Cottage Hospital’s main campus on Pueblo St. and Castillo St., 70 percent of the remodel is complete. Construction on what will be a 870,000 square-foot hospital began in 2005.

“This truly is a community hospital, from start to finish,” said Ron Werft, president and CEO of hospital. “The hospital is designed from the point of view of a patient, and it has everything you would expect technologically.”

Patients are set to move into the new hospital on Feb. 12. The newest building is the most significant chunk of the remodel, and includes a 40-bed intensive care unit, surgery center, inpatient recovery rooms, birth center and other specialty facilities.

The hospital’s decision to replace all of its inpatient care facilities came after the California legislature mandated that all acute-care hospitals in the state be rebuilt or retrofitted to withstand a 6.0 earthquake following the 1994 Northridge quake.

Because there was no state funding available, Cottage, like other hospitals throughout the state, raised money for the remodel. Nathan Sigler, director of transition for the construction project, said the hospital paid for the project using a variety of sources. Cottage took out $300 million in bonds to pay for a big chunk of construction, and raised about $110 million through philanthropy. The remainder of the money came from strategic operating reserves.

The statewide seismic deadline is set for 2013. According to Ron Biscaro, vice president for project development, the latest phase of construction represents what Cottage needs to meet the earthquake mandate.

The remaining 30 percent of the project consists of the fifth and sixth phases of construction, which includes a new inpatient wing. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital currently has the capacity to see 40,000 patients; by the time the project is complete in 2018, it will be able to treat 80,000 patients at the same time.

The community open houses will be held on Jan. 7 and 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The hospital’s staff will be on hand to share details about the architecture and construction of the facility. They will also lead a limited number of tours, by reservation only.

Cottage used the remodel as an opportunity to make the hospital more green. The building includes environmentally sensitive elements such as the reuse of an existing urban site, maximum natural light, environmentally friendly building materials and energy efficient plumbing, electrical and lighting systems.

The other Cottage outposts are also under construction to meet the state earthquake mandates. Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital is in the process of being entirely rebuilt, and the Santa Ynez Valley branch added ten patient rooms.

As a result of the mandate, Maria Medical Center in Santa Maria is also being rebuilt this year. Santa Barbara’s St. Francis Hospital closed in 2003, partly because of the mandate.