A year after groundbreaking, some one hundred people cheered under a hot sun Friday morning as construction workers symbolically placed the highest beam on Kaiser Permanente's new San Leandro Medical Center.
The hospital will replace Kaiser's Hayward Medical Center, and is expected to open in October 2014.
The planned six-story, 264-bed hospital represents the "next generation" of medical centers, said Robert Greenberg, physician-in-chief at Kaiser's Hayward Medical Center.
"The practice of medicine is changing dramatically," said Greenberg, noting the increasing use of digital technology in the hospital setting.
He said the new hospital was being built with forethought about technological changes likely to occur decades into the future.
"It will allow us to provide very high tech, high touch care in a way that's different from a hospital built in the 1960s," Greenberg said.
For San Leandro, the hospital represents the potential for jobs and economic development. Colleen McKeown, senior vice president at Kaiser Permanente, said the project would generate 300 jobs during the construction phase, and would be staffed by 2,500 physicians and other hospital employees.
McKeown also noted that the project marked a homecoming for Kaiser, since its first ever clinic in southern Alameda County was located on East 14th Street in San Leandro.
The beam that was lifted Friday was painted lime green and signed with black Sharpie pens by dozens of Kaiser employees, city leaders and local politicians. The green paint wasn't just for show, Greenberg said.
The hospital is being built using "sustainable design principles," Greenberg told the crowd gathered in a tent before the "topping out" ceremony. He also said Kaiser was dedicated to "environmentally-reponsible purchasing," including non-toxic cleaning and flooring materials.
He said recycling at the site had already diverted 98,000 tons of construction materials away from landfills. Those materials were being used to stabilize the soil and fill the foundation, Greenberg said.
"This medical center is going to be green," he told the crowd. "Very green."
Flip through a photo gallery of the event at right.