Developer-banker Michael Towbes and a cluster of movers and shakers with the Sansum Medical Clinic broke ground on the development of a new campus — a pair of two-story buildings with a combined 60,000 square feet — located near the intersection of highways 192 and 154. Sansum and Towbes will build four new surgical theaters, allowing doctors to perform a host of surgeries in facilities owned and operated by Sansum. This will obviate some of the costs associated with leasing space from Cottage Hospital or some of the private medical centers on the South Coast. Sansum will also relocate several departments — ophthalmology; urology; ear, nose, and throat; orthopedics; and podiatry — into the new digs. This will cut operating costs while providing patients with better integrated care, said Vince Jensen, Sansum’s new chief operating officer.
The move, he went on, will free up 45,000 square feet of space in Sansum’s existing clinics. Some of that slack, Jensen said, could be taken up with new primary care doctors of which there’s an acute shortage both nationally and in Santa Barbara. As a result of the Health Care Reform Act — coupled with an increase in Medicaid funding — Jensen estimated Sansum could soon find itself treating one-quarter to one-half of the 30,000 new patients expected to be insured this year. The new offices — scheduled for completion in the last quarter of 2014 — are being developed by a partnership involving Towbes and Sansum. Jensen said Sansum has budgeted $13 million to build the interior portion of the new buildings. Towbes, he said, is responsible for building the rest.