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Utility systems are fully operational, the floors, ceilings and walls are freshly painted and multi-million dollar medical equipment is wrapped in clear plastic like holiday or birthday presents.

With major construction of the new Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital complete, Monday marks the beginning of weeks of orientation and training — more than 50,000 hours worth — for nearly 1,020 clinical and nonclinical staff and hundreds of local physicians and specialists.

"We're in 'staff, stock and training' mode now," said Tom Minard, Sutter's senior project manager of hospital construction.

"This begins the process of training that culminates the day we move it," he said.

That date, when 800 hospital staff and consultants transfer about 69 patients from the hospital on Chanate Road to the new facility on Mark West Springs Road, is Oct. 25.

Hardhat construction workers are still putting the finishing touches on the hospital — anchoring down equipment, installing desks and chairs, performing final mechanical testing, painting and installing artwork.

But by the end of July, this well-orchestrated frenzy of construction will be replaced by an army of nurses, medical technicians and hospital administrators familiarizing themselves with everything from where the bathrooms are to the hospital's new electronic health records system

Each employee will receive between 50 and 160 hours of training, depending on their duties, said Ali Myers, Sutter's local director of education. Myers, who heads up an education and training focus group, said the basic medical surgical nurse will likely require 50 hours of training, compared to a critical care or neonatal intensive care unit nurse, which would require at least 160 hours of training.

On Friday, a small group of nurse residents who work at the old hospital on Chanate Road participated in a trial orientation tour of the hospital. Their reactions were not unlike those of children who had just walked into a toy or candy store.

"The equipment is just an astronomical improvement," said Kari Anderson-Hermann, a Sutter nurse resident who previously trained in first-class hospitals in Minneapolis.

"Minneapolis has some really state-of-the-art facilities and I would say this rivals those."

Sutter's $292 million hospital will feature 40 general surgical beds, 20 obstetrical surgical beds, 12 ICU beds and 12 neonatal ICU beds. The hospital will have eight operating rooms, one of which is a $7.4 million "hybrid operating room" that's equipped with a catheterization laboratory, the only one of its kind on the North Coast up to Oregon.

"That room is on the leading edge of cardiac care in the country," Minard said.

When the nearby medical office building — a joint project between Sutter and local physicians that is simultaneously under construction — is complete, the combined campus will have 14 operating rooms, more than any other medical facility in the region, Minard said.

At the center of the two-story hospital is a 24-bed observation care unit that was intentionally built adjacent to the surgery, heart and vascular and emergency departments. The "flex" beds in the unit, housed in spacious private rooms with TVs, will be used by each of the departments, improving the flow of patients through the hospital so they can be discharged more quickly.

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The new hospital even has its own distributed antenna system, which boosts cellular communication signals. That means patients, doctors, nurses and technicians will be able to use their cellphones inside the hospital, where service has traditionally been spotty, at best.

The antenna system will also be used for the hospital's telemetry service, which can monitor patients regardless of where they are in the hospital. The hospital's radio frequency identification system, which also uses the network, can track "tagged" hospital equipment.

But state-of-the-art medical technology is not all the new Sutter hospital will offer.

Last week, workers began the installation of 360 pieces of artwork, the product of 29 individual artists from eight different cities in Sonoma County.

"It'll be the largest place in Sonoma County to see local art," said Sutter spokeswoman Lisa Amador.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

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