Back to articles

Ukiah Valley Medical Center’s Demolition Celebration Marks Milestone in Campus Expansion Plan


Ukiah, CA – It was a cool, crisp ordinary Monday morning on July 27, 2015, as 80 community members, physicians, and employees gathered at Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) for an anything but ordinary celebration – to watch a building be demolished and say their goodbyes by writing on the wall and then take turns swinging at the building with sledgehammers.

Prior to the demolition, President and CEO of UVMC, Gwen Matthews, reflected on the complexities of the make ready work that led to this point along with the poignant passage from Scripture, “There is a season for everything under the heavens…There is a time to tear down and a time to build up,” which was echoed by Chaplain Greg Harper, director of spiritual Care at UVMC.

After Matthews finished her introductions, Ernie Wipf of Wipf Construction approached the building with an excavator and took a bite out of the wall of the building where medical imaging records, materials management, information technology, and telephone operators were previously housed. 
David Weis, AVP of Operations at UVMC, then proceeded to introduce and invite representative employees who have given to the emergency department (ED) and intensive care unit (ICU) expansion project to take their swings. Among those was Brenda Lee, executive assistant at UVMC who shared, “It was quite exhilarating, I really didn’t know how I was going to feel, but smashing into the walls really gave me a personal sense that I had contributed to something great, and that something even better is being built for our community!”
After the employees had a chance to take a crack at the building, UVMC Patient Care Executive Heather Van Housen, introduced major representative physician donors, Charlie Evans, M.D., UVMC chief of staff and emergency physician, Hershel Gordon, M.D., pathologist, and Ziad Hanna, D.O., general and bariatric surgeon, Jeremy Mann, M.D., chief medical officer for NCN ambulatory services and pediatrician, who had an opportunity to take part in the chaos.

Dr. Evans shared, “This is a step forward in the right direction, and it is a great addition to the hospital as it progresses as a medical center. Likewise, Dr. Gordon, who has been providing care for 42 years said, “It really feels like this is the beginning of a great new ED and ICU, and I’m glad the process is under way.” Dr. Hanna also said, “The event was extremely personal for me. I felt bad at first because there’s so much history in this place, but since we’re here to build it back up, I was also happy to be a part of the new era of health care for our community.” Dr. Mann agreed, “It was a wonderful event to mark the beginning of our long-awaited campus expansion. Swinging the sledgehammer was rather difficult as I believe the walls of that old building had become petrified!” 

For some in attendance the idea of a demolition celebration was a new concept, “I’ve been to many ground breakings,” said Charles Ackerley, of Jennings Ackerley Architecture and Design of San Francisco, the architect behind the design of the project, “but this is the first time that I have ever taken part in a demolition celebration!” Mr. Ackerley came to the event with hardhat and golden sledgehammer, ready to do some damage. 

To wrap up the event Allyne Brown, director of philanthropy said, “It was very important to us that the community, physicians and employees had a chance to celebrate this milestone. They were part of making this project a reality.” Community donors who participated in the festivities included Ed Berry,  Bonnie Carter, Suzie Hardie, Francine Selim and Ken McBurney of Friedman’s Home Improvement.

The demolition is yet another sign of progress in the $41 million campus expansion project, of which $3.75 million was raised by community members, physicians, and employees. Scheduled to be completed next year, the project will expand the current emergency department to 19 private rooms and eight private rooms for intensive care. Construction also includes a rooftop helipad to provide easy access for emergency helicopters. To learn more about philanthropic opportunities at UVMC please contact Allyne Brown at (707) 463-7623.

--  UVMC  --
Ukiah Valley Medical Center, part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,600 includes more than 20,500 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,600 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist health values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 220 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. We invite you to visit [Hospital Website] for more information.