Except for a brief debate on how the project should work within Goleta’s Growth Management Ordinance, the Goleta City Council’s approval of plans for the new Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital went off without a hitch last week.

The hospital, like many other hospitals in California, is faced with a mandate to either retrofit or rebuild its facilities at 351 S. Patterson Ave. to withstand major seismic events.

For GVCH, that meant building a completely new facility just south of its current one, a project that would maintain most of its current operations while consolidating others, meaning services at each of the area Cottage Hospitals would be distributed system-wide, instead of duplicating some of them at each facility.

As a result, departments like the Birthing Center and the Sub-Acute Care unit will be relocated to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital at Pueblo at Bath streets. GVCH’s bed count will drop to 52 from 122, but the rooms will be larger single-patient rooms. The number of operating and emergency rooms will increase.

The roughly $103 million project includes a two-story, 152,925-square-foot building that concentrates outpatient and emergency services downstairs while keeping inpatient services upstairs. The layout, according to GVCH vice president Diane Wisby, ensures that hospital operations are more streamlined and efficient.

“Instead of patients looking for staff, the staff will go to the patients,” she said.

Meanwhile, the GVCH-owned parcel just across Patterson from its main facility will be converted into a temporary parking lot while the new facility is built.

The only hurdle the project faced was its role under the Goleta Growth Management Ordinance, which allows for a certain amount of square footage to be developed for nonresidential projects over a given year. Under the so-called GGMO, completion of the new hospital would be delayed. Ultimately, the council decided to exempt GVCH from such a requirement. (Click here for a related Goleta City Council story.)

Work is expected to start on the temporary parking lot before the end of the year.

Write to sfernandez@noozhawk.com