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Prison hospital construction employs 1,400
Complex will create 2,400 permanent jobs
Construction workers survey the top of what will be the administration building of the new California Correctional Health Care Facility, Stockton. The guard tower in the foreground will monitor all staff and visitors entering the facility. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

STOCKTON – Roy Hobbs heard it on his farm in Iowa – “If you build it, they will come.”

And that has definitely rang true for more than 1,400 skilled workers from hundreds of Northern California subcontractors that are being tasked with carrying out the lion’s share of the work at the California Health Care Facility off of Stockton’s Arch Road just northeast of Manteca.

A massive undertaking designed to provide adequate healthcare services to inmates serving out sentences inside of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the construction has provided a huge shot in the arm for those in local building trades that were brought in on the project.

More than 2,000 people have been hired to work on the site in some capacity, and an additional 200 more tradesmen are expected to round out a roster of 1,600 active bodies by the end of August – prepping for the pre-winter push.

Once completed – all construction target dates have been hit and the state is expected to take ownership at the end of next May – the 1,722 bed facility will provide long term care for inmates and patients with a broad range of ailments.

And in the eyes of CDCR Project Manager Mike Meredith, failure in terms of meeting crucial deadlines is simply not an option.

“This is an instance where we have a court mandate that requires everything be completed by a certain time, and that is really what has pushed this forward as quickly as it has,” Meredith said. “Every stakeholder that had a seat at the table has really stepped up and helped move this project forward. We had the Building Trade Council really step up and supply us with the amount of skilled labor that was needed to pull something like this off.

“We’re working to have all of the inmate-patients inside the facility by Dec. 31 of next year.”

With a price tag of more than $900 million, the facility – and the work that has gone into building it – has served as its own independent stimulus package for Stockton and San Joaquin County in general.

When everything is operating at peak capacity, CDCR checks to the tune of $70 million every month are going out to contractors – money that is eventually funneled down to the workers themselves that use that to gas up on their way home or buy breakfast at the Arch Road travel plaza before hitting the jobsite.

A total of 5,500 workers will be utilized to complete the entire project from start to finish, and an additional 2,400 civil service workers will be tapped to man and operate the facility once it opens – boasting a payroll of $220 million.

Patients needing severe surgery or advanced care that won’t be available at the city will be transported to San Joaquin General Hospital. A secure wing was recently outfitted by CDCR to cut down on the cost of routine transports from Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy.

Granite/Hensel-Phelps Construction and Clark/McCarthy – a Joint Venture are serving as general contractors for the project.