By Karen Billing
Kaiser Permanente celebrated the opening of its new medical offices in Carmel Valley on Aug. 14. The first patients were scheduled for appointments on Monday, Aug. 19.
Kaiser purchased the land off Carmel Creek Road eight years ago for the facility, which will serve more than 157,000 North County residents.
The 50,000-square-foot, two-story facility houses 20 primary care offices and 10 specialty care services, including cardiology, dermatology, radiology and neurology. The plan is that the offices will provide “convenient and easy care,” a one-stop shop for patients with a full pharmacy and diagnostic lab on site.
The Carmel Valley facility also features Kaiser’s first comprehensive Women’s Center in Southern California. The center will offer mammogram screening, obstetrics gynecology, cosmetic procedures, lactation services, even a Thrive Boutique, a small retail center to support the Women’s Center.
“We wanted our presence in Carmel Valley to be unique and different, and really represent the great care and services that Kaiser Permanente provides,” said Mary Ann Barnes, senior vice president and executive director.
The two-story building features natural light pouring in from big windows in the façade, flooring that sparkles, hints of gold and grass green downstairs, and the addition of orange and blue hues upstairs. A large reception area allows patients to check in for any appointment downstairs, and there is a secondary check-in station upstairs — there are self-check-in kiosks in both locations. Waiting rooms outside of primary and specialty care offices feature new, cozy chairs. Downstairs, along with the pharmacy and lab, there is also a series of conference rooms for health education classes for members.
“This is a great, amazing building that helps our physicians provide the best quality care for all of our members,” said Dr. Paul Bernstein, area medical director. “Our trademark is prevention and wellness but we also want to stress if you’re sick, we’re here for you.”
Barnes said the facility stresses innovation.
The offices use HealthConnect, the largest civilian electronic health records system in the nation that allows caregivers instant access to a patient’s record and history. A physician panel demonstrated how they use integrated medicine and coordinated care at the center for everything they do— pop-ups on electronic records will remind staff that patients are due for routine procedures so they never miss an opportunity to keep them well. Having all of a patient’s health information at their fingertips can also alert physicians about pre-existing conditions they need to be watchful of, such as a high-risk diabetic pregnancy.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony allowed guests to nibble on wellness bites, such as granola and fresh fruit while getting a peek at the new digs and the futuristic VGo robot that zoomed about. The VGo is a videoconferencing/telepresence device that allows Kaiser to bring healthcare into skilled nursing facilities, remote areas or even work sites. Bernstein said VGo is just one example of how Kaiser is pushing the envelope in looking how it can be innovative in medical care.
At the ribbon cutting event, San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts said his vision for the county includes ensuring that healthcare is one of the leading resources available. Roberts said Kaiser’s well-planned new facility supports that goal.
“To bring a facility like this to North County is such a jewel to add to our crown,” said Roberts said. “Carmel Valley is the heart of my district...this facility truly enhances the quality of life for Carmel Valley and the entire North County region.”
As Kaiser represents the largest medical group in San Diego, with more than 1,100 physicians, Jerry Sanders, former San Diego Mayor and current head of the Chamber of Commerce, praised the Kaiser system for continuing to grow.
“You’ve created more jobs and brought a higher level of healthcare to San Diego,” Sanders said.
The new Carmel Valley facility is just one part of Kaiser’s plans. Kaiser is slated to open a new facility in Oceanside next year and, on Jan. 2, will break ground on a new central San Diego hospital. The hospital is expected to open in 2017.
For more information, visit kp.org/sandiego. Location: 3851 Shaw Ridge Rd., San Diego, 92130.