New Barstow hospital nears completion
BARSTOW • When the new 82,500-square-foot Barstow Community Hospital opens its doors some time in October, visitors will notice upgrades to technology, enhanced security and more privacy for patients.
While Barstow city leaders on Thursday evening planned to discuss the fate of the old building, some visitors got a sneak peek of the new hospital set to open later next month.
“I think this is a landmark event for Barstow,” said Sean Fowler, Barstow Community Hospital CEO. “The facility that we are in has served us very, very well ... and the city has worked with us very favorably with building a hospital. ... I think it is a sign that Barstow Community Hospital will be here for many, many years to come.”
The new hospital boasts 15,000 square feet of additional space compared to the existing hospital. It features an emergency department, which includes a trauma bay, airborne infection exam room and 15 exam rooms.
The diagnostic imaging department also features the latest MRI and CT equipment to help doctors spot abnormalities and diseases earlier.
“The MRI in the current building is a .03 tesla,” said John Rader, Barstow Community Hospital spokesman. “The new hospital has a 1.5 tesla MRI. The CT scan at this hospital is 16 slice — that’s how thin they can slice up a tissue to see disease. At the new hospital, it is 32-slice CT scan, so they can slice it up much thinner and they can see the disease much earlier.”
At the current facility, visitors don’t have to check in at the information desk.
“At the new facility, you will have to check in at the information desk, provide an ID and get banded,” Rader said. “So that we know who is in the facility when they are there and when they leave.”
The new hospital centers on patient privacy, with a private registration area, showers and restrooms. It will also offer more options for loved ones waiting for patients who are having surgery, delivering a baby or spending the night in the medical-surgical rooms.
In the early 1950s, since Barstow had no local hospital, the current Barstow Community Hospital was established to provide residents with a local option, Rader said.
“For the most part, they had to go down to San Bernardino,” he said. “And they decided they need to build a new hospital, so community members got together and they had to raise funds in the early 1950s and had those funds matched by a legislation called the Hill/Burton Act.”
The Northridge earthquake prompted the enactment of Senate Bill 1953 in 1994, so the city had to retrofit the existing hospital or build a new one to meet the standards. All existing hospitals were required to undergo seismic evaluations and be retrofitted by 2030. The city decided it would be more cost effective to build a new one, Rader said.
“It was the seismic that really said you have no more choice, you have to build a new hospital to meet those seismic codes,” Rader said. “But the community has long known that they need to build a new hospital to upgrade this facility.”
Former Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale said the new hospital means a new start for the health and welfare of the city.
“It brings about an atmosphere of the city moving ahead to take care of its citizens,” he said.