Last night representatives from California Northstate University (CNU) held their second community town hall meeting in as many weeks to discuss the proposed hospital in the Stonelake area of Elk Grove. The meeting last night at Steve’s Plaza Pizza was for residents of District 3. This follows the meeting last week for District 2 residents at Fat Mike’s Pizza.
The room was packed last night with CNU representatives and local residents, mostly from District 1, the area where the proposed hospital will be located. Project Manager Paolo Diaz provided a brief slide show and background information on the project before taking questions from the audience.
The audience peppered Diaz with questions regarding the timeline for construction and the need for such a large hospital in the area. Residents questioned whether the hospital could be completed by the proposed 2022 timeline in light of the fact that Dignity Health, which recently announced they would be building a hospital in Elk Grove, is estimating they won’t open until 2025 or 2026. Dignity’s hospital plan has already been approved. Diaz responded that CNU is working on a parallel timeline to get approvals done and begin construction as soon as possible.
One audience member questioned whether CNU had the experience to build a hospital since they have yet to actually build one. Diaz replied that he was involved with the San Francisco General hospital project and that while CNU may not have experience building a hospital, they have hired a team that does.
Elizabeth Brown, the owner of Dreaming Dog Brewery, a business that will be displaced by the hospital, talked of the lack of communication between CNU and local businesses. Brown said they initially found out about the hospital through Facebook on the day of the press conference announcing the planned hospital in December 2018. Brown also said they have been in talks with CNU representatives about a proposed relocation or a buyout, but they have not had any communication since August 2019. CNU President Alvin Cheung disputed that saying they have been in contact with Dreaming Dog’s legal counsel and has the documents to prove it. On her way out of the meeting, a visibly upset Brown told CNU reps that they were not being truthful. I briefly spoked to Brown as she left and she told me that they have had no communication since August 2019.
Questions about building in a floodplain also came up during the meeting. Diaz said the hospital will be built to withstand a 200-year flood. One resident asked how would people get to and from the hospital in the event of a flood? Diaz did not have an answer to that specific question. He only stated that the regulations require the hospital to be self-sustaining for 3-5 days in the event of a disaster where there was no power or water.
The meeting lasted nearly two hours. The next community meeting will be
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