New hospital breaks ground

Despite activists’ lawsuit, construction of Peninsula medical facility under way

BURLINGAME — The new Peninsula Medical Center is officially under construction.

Work has been trucking along all summer on the new hospital’s parking garage at the corner of El Camino Real and Trousdale Drive, but the state-of-the-art medical center broke ground amid much fanfare on Wednesday afternoon.

Many government and elected officials in central San Mateo County showed up for the afternoon festivities, which included sighs of relief and happiness that the much-discussed project is finally under way.

Sutter Health affiliate Mills-Peninsula is funding a new hospital to replace the one at 1783 El Camino Real to meet state seismic standards for acute-care hospitals that must be in place by 2013. The hospital, according to estimates, is now expected to cost a up to $528 million.

More than $1.5 million of the construction cost comes from the Mills-Peninsula Hospital Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for programs and facilities for the healthcare provider, according to foundation president John Loder.

Jully Laxamana, a five-year Mills-Peninsula employee, credits more than 1,700 hospital employees with donating the bulk of the funds.

After more than six years of public meetings and lawsuits — one of which continues — voters overwhelmingly approved the new hospital in an August mail-in election, the last step needed before construction on the massive project could begin. The hospital is scheduled for completion in 2010.

After the end of the 50-year lease — the main subject of the continuing lawsuit — the Peninsula Health Care District, which owns the land, will buy back the hospital using $1.5 million paid inannual rent.

Watchdog group Peninsula Guardians, which has sued the district and Mills-Peninsula challenging the length of the lease agreement, heads to court next week. Despite the suit, Guardians member Dan Andersen said he’s happy that progress is being made on the new facility.

tramroop@examiner.com

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