The new $78 million state-of-the-art Jaromir Strizka Emergency Department at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is preparing to open in the next week and held a traditional blessing of the building and dedication ceremony on Tuesday, August 30th.
The original wood-framed Providence St. Joseph hospital was built in the 1940s with the help of workers at nearby studios due to labor and material shortages during World War II. The new modern and efficient Jaromir Strizka ER is 3 times larger than its predecessor at 34,500 square feet, holding 44 ER beds. Every room and space has been thoughtfully designed for increased privacy and comfort of patients and caregivers.
The Blessing and Dedication Ceremony on August 30th began with a welcome from the Chief Executive of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Karl Keeler. Keeler thanked the community for supporting the project since the construction of the new building was completely funded through donors and community fundraisers.
Following the welcome was a reflection on dealing with the unexpected by Juliette Marsh, the department’s Chief Mission Integration Officer. “Today we celebrate. We celebrate the many ways that together as a community we are continuing into our next chapter; that we are continuing the story that was begun and that continues in us and through us; so together we can welcome the unexpected,” said Marsh in her reflection.
Marsh then welcomed up emergency department staff up to the podium: Medical Director Celina Barba-Simic, M.D., Executive Director Debbie Buffham MSN, RN, CEN, and Manager Bailey Wojcik, BSN, RN, MICN. “Like the Sisters of Providence, you have created this and answered a call bigger than yourselves,” said Dr. Barba as she thanked the community for their support in the project.
Donors Walter and Bonnie Hill shared their story as a former patient of Providence St. Joseph. Walter Hill was provided life-saving care after he collapsed during a run and was in a coma. His wife, Bonnie Hill, now a hospital foundation board member, is so thankful that her husband had a second chance at life, thanks to Providence. “The paramedics made the decision when they got there to bring him to Providence St. Joseph. It was one of the greatest decisions that could have ever been made,” said Bonnie Hill.
Mayor Jess Talamantes was in attendance along with Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony and councilmembers Nick Schultz, Sharon Springer, and Bob Frutos. Talamantes took the podium and thanked the city staff and construction team that worked closely with the hospital on this project. Providence holds a special place in Mayor Talamantes’ heart, and he expressed how his connection to the hospital. “I as a young firefighter and paramedic, delivered patients back in the late 70s early 80s to the original emergency room,” said Talamantes. “My wife Sandy retired as an assistant nurse manager after 42 years at this hospital.”
Finally, retired Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, who served in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, performed a blessing on the hospital building. Wilkerson worked at Providence St. Joseph for 20 years and was glad to be back and out of retirement to bless the hospital once more. The Bishop prayed over the water in his aspergillum and walked around, blessing the space and people in attendance while sprinkling the holy water.
Providence High School Choir was there and sang, “We can build a beautiful city, yes we can,” as the Bishop concluded his blessing. Providence St. Joseph Health Sponsors Barbara Savage and Jeff Flocken declared the new building officially blessed and dedicated. “May this space be filled with joy, laughter, and mutual respect. May you leave here feeling more healed, more whole, more able to love and to hope,” prayed Flocken.
Bishop Wilkerson, the Sisters of Providence, and the hospital’s sponsors were the first to cross the threshold into the new department, followed by all other guests in attendance. Among the guests were Burbank Police Chief Mike Albanese, Burbank Fire Chief Eric Garcia, Superintendent Matt Hill, and many others.