hospital construction
The Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital seismic retrofit project is nearly finished, with a remodeled, expanded emergency department next on the list for construction. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

After more than a decade of construction, Cottage Health is nearing completion of its $750 million seismic retrofit project for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Cottage Health officials gave an annual update report on the status of the project at last week’s planning commission meeting. 

Cottage was required to rebuild the hospital project to comply with State Senate Bill 1953, which required the seismic retrofit and/or upgrading of all acute care facilities in California. 

Over time, construction crews demolished 283,263 square feet of existing hospital structures, including 233,170 square feet of the existing main hospital building, Eye Center and 37,535 square feet of structures.

The project was initially supposed to be completed by 2013, but construction delays slowed it down.

Now, crews are looking start remodeling the emergency department, a project that is expected to be completed by 2020.

The remodel will expand the number of emergency department rooms to 41 from 23, and the additional rooms will allow the hospital to increase the number of patients it sees per year, according to Ron Biscaro, the Cottage Hospital Vice President of Housing & Real Estate Development.

Biscaro said the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency department has been “over-capacity” for about 10 years. 

“We have been somewhat bottlenecked by our own limited beds over the years,” Biscaro said.

“Construction is a tough business but we got through most of it and we are looking forward to wrapping it up,” he said. 

Biscaro also said that neighborhood complaints about construction have dropped dramatically in recent years. 

“I just want to continue to commend you guys,” said Michael Jordan, a planning commissioner. “There was one point when (construction) was just hell for the neighborhood. People wlll look back at this and just be grateful to have this kind of facility.”

Planning Commission Chair Leslie Wiscomb also praised Cottage after hearing the update. 

“You have really done a great job on a very, very, very big project,” she said. “You maybe could handle a couple others in the city — no, I am teasing.”

Cottage Health launched massive fundraising campaigns to fund the modernization projects at both Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley hospitals. 

Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital’s $126-million major renovation project was finished in 2015. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.