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    Final Beam Placed on Oakland’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 28, 2012 - Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s Summit Campus in Oakland celebrated an important milestone in a topping out ceremony on Tuesday, February 28. Hundreds of construction workers, employees, physicians and staff of the East Bay’s largest not-for-profit hospital gathered next to the skeleton of the new 11-story structure and cheered as the last beam rose into place.

    Painted white and signed by attendees, the 18-foot beam was raised to the top of the new Patient Care Pavilion by a 250-foot tower crane.

    “Today marks the celebration of a traditional construction milestone in what has been anything but a traditional project,” said Jay Widdifield, project manager for DPR Construction.

    Part of the Sutter Health network of care, Alta Bates Summit’s Patient Care Pavilion is being built on a 1.5-acre site in the middle of the hospital’s campus in Oakland, which has remained fully operational during construction. The new facility will be attached to the existing hospital buildings on three sides and seven different floors.

    “We’re extremely grateful to the hundreds of iron workers and construction teams who have worked tirelessly to keep this important project on schedule,” said Chuck Prosper, CEO of Alta Bates Summit. “Construction on this health care asset began about one year ago and is a source of great pride for all of us. Our entire community will benefit from its state-of-the-art technology, family friendly and healing environment.”

    The 250,000 square foot building is slated to open in early 2014.

    Designed by Devenney Group, Ltd., the $300 million project is funded completely by Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center – with no cost to local taxpayers – as a commitment to health care in the greater East Bay. An additional $50 million was used to build a 1,000 space parking structure set to open in May. The new pavilion and garage are one of four Sutter Health hospitals currently under construction (Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, Eden Medical Center (Castro Valley), Sutter Medical Center Sacramento and Alta Bates Summit).

    The topping out tradition is a cherished custom in the construction industry signaling that the skeleton of a new structure is completed and has reached its maximum height. (See attachment for more information.)

    The goals of the project:

    • Create an ideal patient experience that fosters a safe and healing environment
    • Preserve a rich heritage of excellence and quality care
    • Community pride
    • Support physicians and employees by creating an exceptional place to work
    • Sustainable green construction and practices
    • Demolition of Bechtel Hall and nearby buildings for the new parking structure: August 23, 2010
    • Construction of parking structure began September 27, 2010
    • Ground breaking for new Patient Care Pavilion: October 25, 2010
    • Topping out: Patient Care Pavilion: February 2012
    • Completion of parking structure: May 2012
    • Pavilion completion: 2014
    The entire project is funded through Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, as well as private and foundation donations. No taxpayer dollars will be used.

    Cost of Summit Campus projects (pavilion and garage): $350 million, all part of Sutter Health’s $700+ million investment in the East Bay.

    The combined construction project resulted in nearly 400 new jobs and assures 2,000 health care jobs in the City of Oakland.

    Patient Care Pavilion
    The new structure is built to meet and exceed seismic requirements in Senate Bill 1953 (the structure is built to withstand 7.3 magnitude earthquake).

    Architects: Devenney Group Ltd.
    General Contractor: DPR Construction, Redwood City

    • 11 Floors (above ground, two below ground level)
    • 238 patient rooms (all private)
    • 250,000 square feet of new construction
    • Capabilities/equipment:
      • Electronic health record
      • Electronic patient registration
      • Dedicated video monitoring for brain injury
    The project established a very early commitment to green design and sustainability by adopting the City of Oakland’s initiative toward the Green Guide for Healthcare as well as surpassing many of the energy and power regulations set forth by the State of California. LEED silver certification is being sought

    Milestone/Topping Out Factoids
    • The ceremonial beam is 18 feet long and weighs 490 lbs.
    • 463 concrete pilings were drilled 30 to 95 feet below ground in January for the new building to sit on, requiring 3100 yards of grout to fill. These pilings result in an earth quake safe structure.
    • 1600 tons of rebar
    • 3700 tons of steel
    • 10,000 yards of concrete
    • 130,200,000: number of construction hours to date
    • Estimated workforce: Approx. 270

    What is “Topping Out”?
    “Topping Out” is a cherished custom in the construction industry signaling that the skeleton of a new bridge structure is completed and has reached its maximum height. It is a celebration for the workers and an acknowledgement of their achievement. As part of the ceremony, an evergreen tree and flag are attached to the final beam when it is hoisted into the air and lowered into place. That final beam is usually brightly painted and then autographed by the ironworkers and other teams associated with the new structure.
    • Why the tree? - The custom of attaching a tree to the last beam evolved from an ancient European tradition of tying an evergreen tree to the top of a newly completed roof. Some say it is reflective of an ancient promise that the building would be no higher than the tallest tree. More recently, the tree has come to symbolize that the structure went up safely and it is considered a good luck charm for the future occupants. Others claim that an evergreen tree represents the lasting nature of the building since it remains green throughout all seasons.
    • History - No one knows exactly how this event started, but celebrations of placing the last beam can be traced back to ancient times. The custom of raising an evergreen tree goes back to Scandinavia in the year 700 when attaching the tree to the building’s ridge pole would appease the tree spirits and signaled to all who helped that the celebration of the building’s completion would begin. The Topping Out tradition has marked milestones in construction projects for generations and we at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and Sutter Health are proud to be a part of this history.

    About Sutter Health
    Serving patients and their families in more than 100 Northern California cities and towns, Sutter Health doctors, not-for-profit hospitals and other health care service providers share resources and expertise to advance health care quality and access. The Sutter Medical Network includes many of California’s top-performing, highest quality physician organizations as measured annually by the Integrated Healthcare Association. Sutter-affiliated hospitals are regional leaders in cardiac care, women’s and children’s services, cancer care, orthopedics and advanced patient safety technology.

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