Kaiser Permanente is working on plans to build a new medical hub in southwest Santa Rosa, a move that would provide greater medical services to its members in that part of the city and improve its position to serve newly insured patients under President Barack Obama's health care law.
Sources say Kaiser is considering erecting a medical office building in a business park along Northpoint Parkway, off Stony Point Road. Kaiser officials have been in talks with Santa Rosa community development officials for several months.
Kaiser looked at multiple sites before zeroing in on Northpoint Parkway, said Chuck Regalia, the city's community development director. Kaiser has had several discussions with the city about the project, but has not yet submitted an application for design review, he said.
"They have to go where land is available, so this is a good spot," Regalia said. "That area hasn't seen much development for a while. ... It's ready for that sort of thing."
Kaiser is conducting due diligence on a local property where it hopes to construct a "medical office building of some type," spokesman David Ebright said. He would not reveal any details about the project because it had not yet received approval from Kaiser's corporate board of directors.
"Without board approval, nothing is going to happen," Ebright said, adding that Kaiser's board of directors could take up the matter in November.
The building would serve both existing and new members, he said. Regalia said he was told the building would accommodate 40 to 45 health care providers.
Kaiser's plans for a medical office building come at a time of increasing competition between the largest health care providers in Sonoma County.
Next week, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa will break ground on a three-story, 80,000-square-foot medical office building that will be located next to its new hospital under construction on Mark West Springs Road.
Last month, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, which is owned and operated by St. Joseph Health of Sonoma County, completed the first phase of its $15 million emergency department renovation and expansion.
A Kaiser medical building on Northpoint Parkway would give it a beachhead in an area served by Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, which operates several clinics in southwest Santa Rosa, including a general medical clinic on Lombardi Court, a teen clinic at Elsie Allen High School and a children's clinic near Stony Point and Sebastopol roads.
St. Joseph operates a dental clinic on Lombardi Court as well as an urgent care center off Sebastopol Road on Corporate Center Parkway.
A Kaiser campus at Northpoint Parkway would also put the health care giant closer to Palm Drive Hospital and its affiliated physicians in Sebastopol. Tom Harlan, Palm Drive's CEO, said he didn't think a new Kaiser medical office building in southwest Santa Rosa would hurt Palm Drive.
"I don't think it will have a significant impact on us," Harlan said. "They already have a huge market share in this region, and I'm sure they need the facility."