Kaiser opens new medical center in Downey

DOWNEY, Calif. It's the new /*Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center*/, and it officially opened Tuesday morning. Patients from the old hospital, less than a mile away, in Bellflower, were shuttled by ambulance to the new facility. Hospital officials expect to move patients all day.

"Bellflower Hospital will actually convert into our Bellflower medical offices," said Elizabeth Trombley, Kaiser Permanente. "We'll continue to maintain that facility in an outpatient setting only."

Mia Olivarez was born at 8:05 Tuesday morning. The 8-pound, 7-ounce bundle of joy has the distinction of being the first infant born at the new hospital.

"I would bring her back and let the staff see her and all that since she made history here, so I'm excited about that," said Rosemary Olivarez, Mia's mother.

The patient rooms are pretty nicely sized. The rooms come with a refrigerator, a nice amenity. And also, a sofa sleeper and on the other side, pretty cushy beds for the patients.

The hospital has six stories that cost about $300 million to build. It could house more than 350 patients and it is state of the art.

"The entire hospital is wired so you can get online for the mom that just delivered the first baby here at 8 this morning," said Trombley. "She could be e-mailing pictures of her baby right here from the hospital bed."

While Kaiser Permanente opened the doors to its new multi-million-dollar state-of-the art facility in the same community, less than five minutes away, /*Downey Regional Medical Center*/ is in bankruptcy.

"We've got a $25-million obligation that was built up over a 10-year period and we need about three or four years to pay it back and the reorganization filing that we did allows us to have that time," said Robert Fuller, Downey Regional Medical Center.

Downey Medical Center officials say they may not be able to match the level of patient comfort that Kaiser Permanente's new hospital offers. But they add they plan to provide quality patient care for many years, despite the financial hardship.

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