After more than 12 years of development, Mercy General’s Alex G. Spanos Heart and Vascular Center opened Monday, bringing to Sacramento state-of-the-art medical technology and healing spaces in a modern, patient-centered facility that already provides nationally acclaimed care.
Conceptualized in 2001 with a $15 million seed-money donation by Alex G. Spanos, who received cardiac treatment at the hospital, the 123,000 square foot, $170 million expansion in East Sacramento has a long list of impressive features. There are four cutting edge cardiac surgery operating rooms with a progressive hybrid suite, a modern 20-bed cardiac surgery Intensive Care Unity, a 35-bed Progressive Care Unit, a Healing Garden, and 71 private family-friendly rooms. All operating and care units were designed with the capacity to integrate new technologies as they change and to utilize now today’s most innovative technology—which has come a long way even since development began in 2001.
“It’s a great testament to Sacramento,” said Doris Frazier, Vice President of Cardiovascular Services. “It’s a premiere cardiovascular center in a wonderful neighborhood, and the reputation for Mercy General is very stellar…We’re rated in the top 50 cardiac vascular hospitals in the nation [and] now we have a place that looks like we are.”
Adding to a technology-centric design is a healing-centric environment. Over 220 flora and fauna art pieces are in rooms and throughout the center. Both the art pieces and the Healing Garden, an outdoor area landscaped to provide a tranquil space for recovery and repose, represents developers’ overall approach to create a facility that uses both advanced technology to provide the best medical care possible as well as the simplicity of nature and art to provide an environment of healing.
“When you have this very complex area that’s very technological, you have to balance that with the healing aspect of it so when people come here they don’t feel like it’s a sterile environment,” explained Frazier. “Through studies of using art and nature, we know that when people gaze and look at these kinds of views or pieces of art, it decreases blood pressure, slows the respiratory rate down, and they just have a sense of calmness that comes over them. It hastens the healing process.”
Contributing to the healing process as well are the physicians and staff. They are skilled and experienced, and, according to Frazier, collaborative, understanding of the anxiety that comes with cardiac problems, and, due to the hospital’s large volume of procedures, able to hone their expertise in specialty units. Frazier says they’re a primary component that ranks Mercy General No. 1 in California and in the top 5% in the nation.
A benefit of having a state-of-the art facility is that it will also attract new and innovative physicians and medical staff. “I think it’s going to be a magnet for the cream of the crop, which is only going to benefit the citizens of Sacramento and Northern California,” said Frazier.
The project was initially met with resistance by the community in East Sacramento, which Frazier says is understandable with construction and neighborhood concerns. But having seen the end result and the added benefits to the community including a new 20-unit apartment complex, a quarter-acre park, pedestrian improvements, a new site for the Sacred Heart Parish School, a on-campus chapel, and a craftsman-style design to match the neighborhood, she says their response has been positive.
“It’s a beautiful center, it’s state-of-the-art, and I think it’s going to attract the best and brightest minds going forward,” said Frazier. “It really adds to the community and the overall stature of the medical community here in the Sacramento area.”
In addition to Spanos’ $15 million donation, the center was also made possible with the help of $22.8 million in donations from the community. Spanos family members attended the Opening Reception on April 9.
“They said it far exceeds anything they ever dreamed of,” said Frazier.