Earl Farabaugh and his family did not know El Camino Los Gatos Hospital had reopened when they drove by, looking for a medical facility on Sunday.
Farabaugh, a Sunnyvale resident, was the first emergency room patient admitted to the hospital after it reopened on July 12 as the second branch of El Camino Hospital. The hospital was mostly empty as Farabaugh walked the halls with his physical therapist the next day.
The gift shop had not yet been stocked, and volunteers said they were waiting to set up coffee stations in the waiting rooms. In the emergency department, nurses and technicians learned the hospital's computer programs.
"It's like a new house, not everything is quite in place," hospital spokesperson Judy Twitchell said of the facility, adding that El Camino staff members were excited to start working.
Hospital executives announced in December that they were in escrow to buy the facility, then known as Community Hospital of Los Gatos, saying they would run the two sites like one hospital. El Camino officially took over the new hospital in April, despite opposition from a few dozen local residents who argued that the publicly run hospital should be more transparent about how it was spending its money.
But El Camino moved ahead with the acquisition, closing the facility for three months in order to renovate, and celebrated the reopening with a ribbon cutting ceremony last Friday. During the three-month closure, the lobby was renovated and more than 300 employees were hired -- or rehired, as many of them had worked at the hospital before El Camino bought it, Twitchell said.
The Los Gatos staff started slowly, opening the emergency room this week and scheduling surgeries in the urology department.
Besides Farabaugh, 12 other patients came to the emergency room on Sunday, and the urology department had scheduled 10 surgeries for Monday, leaving one operating room open for emergencies, according to Suzie Kinn of the business office.
On July 19, Los Gatos will begin taking ambulance traffic, and Twitchell said doctors will start admitting their patients into the hospital.
"They will start scheduling more surgeries as the year goes on," Twitchell said. "They will also expand the types of surgeries they do."
Hospital executives plan to ramp up to an average of 42 patients per day by 2010, with 36 visits to the emergency room, chief financial officer Marla Marlow said at a board meeting in June.