Barstow's new hospital expected
to open in late 2012.

An exclusive story to the Newberry Springs Community Alliance.
Posted September 1, 2011

      Construction on Barstow's future hospital met a milestone on Thursday, August 25, 2011, when the new facility was given the go-ahead approval by the state to proceed with the next step of interior construction.

Newberry Springs - Barstow 
The greenish material is part of 290,000 square feet of insulation.
Photo: N.S. Community Alliance

      The new structure contains an estimated 65 tons of rebar and 476 tons of structural steel encased by 3,283 cubic yards of concrete.  The exterior will be covered by 31,588 square feet of plaster and 6,707 square feet of glass.

      The new facility takes up just over 1-acre in footprint and sits upon 19.7 acres.  The new hospital has been designed to facilitate later expansion.

      According to John Rader, Barstow's hospital spokesman, 50 to 75 workers have been working daily upon the new structure.  Now with the state's go-ahead, over 200 daily workmen will be reportedly involved.

      The current Barstow Community Hospital (BCH) is a licensed 56-bed facility.  The new replacement, a 30-bed private room hospital, was originally planned by the city to be a 60-bed facility; but the Barstow City Council later allowed the plans to be down-graded by Community Health Systems that operates the current facility and is building the new hospital.  In 2009, CHS wanted to downsize its earlier 60-bed agreement with the city and build a far less costly building.

Newberry Springs - 
Barstow Hospital
Artist rendition of the new Barstow Community Hospital.

      Local Democratic politican, Carmen Hernandez, has been critical of the downsizing.  The larger the size of a medical facility will usually correlate with a larger investment in dianostic equipment.  A better equipped hospital for Barstow would lessen the need for Barstow area residents having to travel 76 miles to the Arrowhead Medical Center or further to Loma Linda or other distant dianostic and treatment facilities.

      For certain medical care, a 30-bed facility will have limits on the dianostic equipment it can support; and it appears that Barstow Community Hospital will continue to be a stepping stone to other medical centers for acute care treatment.  The hospital will continue to be a "bread and butter" medical facility, referring-off certain patients.

      With about 46.9 percent of Barstowians being on some form of government support, the current hospital's charity and uncompensated care is reported at nearly $20 million annually.

      "In today's economy," according to Rader, "many hospital's are operating in the red and closing across the country.  The Barstow area is very fortunate to have the reverse -- private investment of tens of millions of dollars in the community -- with no taxpayer bonds required."

      Due to less-invasive surgical techniques and improved medications, hospital stays are now shorter than in the past.  According to Radar, the "average daily (bed occupancy for the current hospital) for the past 10 years is 23."  Therefore, a 30 bed facility will economically fit the average need.

      Ted Stimpfel, of Newberry Springs, states that private maternity rooms are a good profit winner for many hospitals.  For the new hospital, six of the private rooms will be dedicated to LDR (labor, delivery, recovery); another four rooms will be dedicated as ICUs (Intensive Care Units); leaving the remaining 20 for respiratory and other general healthcare.

      Initial delays in the construction were experienced while waiting for approval by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).  Earlier construction work on the site could not begin until OSHPD reviewed and approved the plans.

      The new hospital is expected to be finished by November 2012.  The building will consist of three levels; one subterrainian, a first floor, and a second floor.  The facility will have a heliport and expanded floorspace for ER, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy and laboratory.