Kaiser hospital now open for business

DOWNEY - Under patchy grey clouds and a warm morning sun, cheers rang out from Kaiser Permanente employees on Tuesday as the first patient being transported from the Bellflower Medical Center arrived to the new 700,000-square-foot Downey Medical Center.One by one, white ambulances pulled up to the front of the hospital, bringing more than 100 patients to the $390 million facility, which will largely replace Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower Medical Center. Dr. Binesh Batra, medical director of the new center, walked around smiling, excited to see the six-story structure finally turning into a full-service hospital. "It's a big day - it's a great day not only for Kaiser Permanente but for the city of Downey," Batra said. "Our staff practiced for months for the 1.5 mile trip - the patients will be waking up in Bellflower and will be sleeping in Downey." However, before the first patient arrived, Rudy and Rosemary Olivarez had already made a somewhat unexpected trip to the Downey Medical Center. Scheduled to have a cesarean section on Wednesday morning, Rosemary, 37, suddenly went into labor on Tuesday morning. "They told us last week if anything happened to come here," said Rudy, who drove the Los Angeles couple to the medical center. At 8:07 a.m., Mia Luna Olivarez was born, the first baby born in the new hospital. Kaiser staff members presented the family with a gift basket wrapped in white lace with a green bow on top. Inside employees put a stuffed animal and some colorful blankets. "This is our second child, we have a 2-year-old daughter," said Rudy, 39. "We are super excited." For Batra, the new medical center represents the future of health care. "We focus on the total health of our patients," Batra said. "We promote prevention and it gives us the best health care outcomes." By monitoring hip fractures and osteoporosis in women, Batra said Kaiser Permanente saved patients more than $25 million. The Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center will serve the Southeast Los Angeles County community and a portion of the 3.3 million Kaiser members living in Southern California.

********** Published: September 18, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 22

NewsEric Pierce