Medical care is important to all of us. Receiving emergency care promptly and professionally is critical. As a resident of the Terra Linda community in San Rafael I have been quite spoiled by having Kaiser Permanente’s large facility within a 5 minute drive. After living in San Francisco for 15 years and having to “cross town ” to reach my PPO, I was thrilled. Now I have three children and love the preventative care my family and others receive at our local Kaiser hospital. My children seem to be growing quickly and I am hearing more and more about emergency visits to Kaiser from my friends with other children. This Kaiser is only 1 block from Vallecito Elementary School and 2 blocks from Terra Linda High School which is comforting. Neither myself or my children have made a unplanned visit yet, but if we do, it will be at Kaiser’s new Emergency Department.
Kaiser began plans for their new building in 2010 and the City of San Rafael granted approval in 2011. After a few alterations and only a 6-12 month delay, the new facility opened on May 15, 2015. This state of the art facility fits into the landscape of the neighborhood very well. With over 17,000 square feet of space, this new department now has two rooms for treating trauma patients, instead of 1, and 18 medical treatment stations. Up near the front (near the waiting room) there will be space for doctors to treat minor complaints such as a rash which will keep the treatment stations opened to more serious emergencies. Dr. Gary Mizono, Kaiser physician-in-chief, said “Our focus has been to get physicians up front, as opposed to having patients triaged”. Three years ago, doctors and nurses at the San Rafael medical center implemented new procedures aimed at cutting the waiting time of visitors to the emergency department and this new facility is built for that new system of care.
Within this new building, there are a few other specialized emergency services. First, Kaiser has two “negative pressure” rooms where a ventilation system creates negative pressure that allows air to flow into the room but not out of it which makes Marin better equipped to deal with patients suffering from highly infectious diseases, such as Ebola. The new emergency department also includes rooms dedicated to obstetrics and gynecology and pediatric patients. And the emergency department is outfitted with high-definition video equipment that will allow specialists in other Kaiser hospitals to be consulted on difficult cases. Doctors will be able to view patients and monitor their vital signs remotely. Thank you Kaiser.
In regards to hospitals in Marin County, Kaiser in San Rafael is a community hospital. This means any patient in the community can come to this emergency department. Serious accident cases, however, are automatically sent to Marin General Hospital, the county’s only designated trauma center because Marin General has neurosurgeons available around the clock, seven days a week, while Kaiser does not. Let’s hope we just need one quick stop, at Kaiser.