2019 Best Real Estate Projects: Sutter Health SeniorCare PACE Facility
September 20, 2019
From the September 20, 2019 issue of
Sacramento Business Journal.
By Nathan Falstreau
We’re introducing you to our Best Real Estate Projects of the Year. This is the top medical project.
Sutter Health’s SeniorCare Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) has operated in Sacramento County in some fashion for roughly 27 years. It opened a small center in 1992 on Franklin Boulevard, and in 1995, a second outpost on U Street, said Karli Holkko, interim administrative director of Sutter’s PACE. But as the centers became a prominent model for elderly care, they couldn’t accommodate the growing number of seniors who wanted to use the space.
“Those buildings were really well loved, and while we were growing the program, we eventually reached capacity,” Holkko said. That’s when Sutter made the decision to invest in building a new center — a one-stop shop for all of its participants’ health care and personal needs — at another location. After completing the new center in July 2018, Sutter has since closed its previous locations and now operates solely out of its River District facility, “which is more spacious than the previous two centers combined,” Holkko added.
The idea for bringing the two facilities under one roof stemmed from Sutter’s need to “update materially, but also to improve the workflow,” said Stephanie Swain, director of interior design at Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture, which worked on the project. Identifying a location that would be transit-friendly, cost-effective and able to streamline patient and administrative services were at the forefront of Sutter’s considerations.
Early on in the planning process, Swain said that her firm conducted a validation study to potentially build a ground-up facility, “but I don’t think it penciled out with the whole budget,” she said. Because of the community Sutter serves in its PACE program, “the location had to be perfect,” she added. “And that’s how they arrived at Richards Boulevard, a location that’s at the height of redevelopment.”
Formerly office space built in the 1970s, the property consisted of four gutted, single-story concrete buildings, Swain said. The development team renovated and updated three buildings on the property, all connected by a breezeway structure, as well as exterior courtyards that brought in a lot of natural light into the space, Swain said.
Now, the three-building, 45,000-square-foot complex houses all of the program’s offerings. That includes clinic space, the Adult Day Health Care (ADHD) — “where we feed them, entertain them and educate them” — along with a separate building for administrative staff, said Dana LeSher, senior project manager at Sutter Health. The center also includes private therapy rooms, an expanded library, a full-service kitchen and on-site laundry facilities.
“The breezeways that existed in the common areas between the three buildings were cleared up and we added wood privacy screens and gates to compartmentalize the areas for physical therapy,” said Andy Laughton, project manager at DesCor Builders. He added that workers also installed steps and walking areas with AstroTurf and handrails so that participants can go outside and navigate different terrain, or take advantage of other outdoor areas for activities like tai chi and yoga. “Before, it was just dated pavers and concrete planters that had been neglected, and we turned it into a pedestrian egress area and path of travel that they could actually use.”
While multiple parties were involved in the planning and redevelopment process, Sutter used a method of construction called the Last Planner System. The scheduling and management style aims to streamline communication. For example, the project’s foreman was brought into meetings to help make decisions that the team would review and ratify, LeSher said.
“It’s an integrated method with our contractors meeting once a week, breaking areas into five groups to expedite construction,” Laughton added. “We also worked closely with Sutter’s equipment vendors throughout the move-in and were very involved in project conception, which included design build all the way through to finish and equipment.”
LeSher added this was the first time that Sutter used the planning and management style for a medium-sized project, which helped the team finish the new center on deadline.
As the designers and contractors all worked together, they also consulted with the program participants to help select artwork for the facility. “They actually had some major input as to what they wanted,” LeSher said. “You tend to see a lot of photos and artwork from their era.”
Sutter’s PACE program currently serves all of Sacramento County and has added 80 new participants since opening its doors last December, said Holkko, who added that Sutter’s vision is to further grow the program, including a joint venture with WelbeHealth, which manages medical and social services for seniors and recently opened a center in Stockton.
“Because of what they offer here, and all of the services are under one roof … this concept is really taking off,” Swain added. “They’ve done such a phenomenal job at getting this past just the basics and extending the livelihood of these patients,” Swain said. “We need more of this.”
Size: 45,000 square feet
Cost: $11.2 million
Completed: July 2018
Developer: Sutter Health
General Contractor: DesCor Builders
Architect: Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture