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Hospital proposal draws crowd

Council ponders project before standing-room only audience

Posted: September 23, 2008 8:02 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.

If Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital expanded as outlined in its master plan, this is what the campus would look like from the air at project's completion.

Plans to expand Santa Clarita’s only hospital were praised and then attacked at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, as the plans returned after a year-long period of revisions.

“I think we have the right plan for the right hospital at the right time,” said hospital CEO and President Roger Seaver.

The master plan calls for a 120-bed inpatient hospital building, three medical office buildings, three above-ground parking structures, one subterranean parking structure and turn lanes added to McBean Parkway, Planning Manager Lisa Webber said in a presentation to the council.

Hospital officials vowed a year ago to strengthen the language in the development agreement at last year’s hearing to show more of a commitment to build the inpatient hospital building.

The development agreement outlines the benefits and guarantees to the community.

Hospital officials changed the development agreement to include a construction timeline that ties the construction progress of the inpatient building to the construction of the medical office building.

“Our guarantee is that before a building permit on the second medical office building can be issued, that the hospital will have to submit its plans to the state of California,” Seaver said. “That’s not a small investment.”

Hospital officials stressed the importance for accommodating a growing community.

“There is no one in this room that doesn’t want this hospital to expand,” Dr. Gene Dorio, a geriatrics specialists who works at the hospital. “The outside promoters of the master plan want you to believe this community is divided using public relations and lobbyists for illusions to obscure the truth.”

It was standing-room only for the audience doctors, nurses, hospital volunteers, residents and lawyers, many wearing pins for or against the plans.

The hospital originally submitted in 2004 with a 25-year timeline. Officials scaled down the plans and changed it to a 15-year plan.

Planning Manager Lisa Webber said the medical office buildings could include doctor’s offices, outpatient services, a surgery center, diagnostic services, centers of excellence, imaging and administrative services.

“The environment we are now in is more unpredictable and uncertain than I’ve seen in years,” said Jim Barber of the Hospital Association of Southern California. “Your community is in competition to attract the best and the brightest ...

“The communities taking the more laissez-faire approach are ones losing ground."


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