By Rebecca Parr, Contra Costa Times – October 26, 2015

OAKLAND — Gov. Jerry Brown joined local leaders Monday to break ground for an outpatient center at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

The six-story, 89,000-square-foot building will be the first step in a 10-year expansion to rebuild and upgrade the health center to meet state seismic standards.

“This is the confluence of so many different minds, investment streams, imaginations; that’s what it takes,” Brown said.

The governor noted that the hospital represents a connection of the University of California, Oakland, San Francisco, and philanthropists Marc and Lynne Benioff.

Children’s Hospital Oakland affiliated with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco in 2014. The Benioffs have donated $250 million and held fundraisers for the two hospitals.

“We’re going to build the world’s greatest children’s hospital right here in Oakland,” Benioff said. “We did it in San Francisco; we’re going to do it again. The children of Oakland deserve the greatest children’s hospital in the world. We’re going to make it happen.”

Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a cloud computing pioneer, had a message for his fellow tech leaders about philanthropy.

“If you’re coming here to San Francisco, if you’re going to come to the Bay Area, you’re going to build a huge company, you’re going to make a large amount of money, you’d better be ready to give back,” he said.

The new center will be next to the current outpatient center and will house neurology, rehabilitation, cardiology and other subspecialty clinics.

“We still have lot of programs in the main hospital that provide services that should be in the outpatient area,” said Dr. Bertram Lubin, hospital CEO.

“By moving these services into an outpatient center, we will be able to provide more space for surgery, intensive care and individual patient rooms,” he said.

The hospital will increase the number of patient rooms from 190 to 210.

Children’s neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric intensive care unit will be renovated. Children’s has the Bay Area’s only Level 1 pediatric trauma center.

New surgical, treatment and diagnostic rooms will be added, as will a parking garage. The $250 million modernization is expected to be finished by 2025.

The outpatient center at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 52nd Street is being built on the site where a white stucco house had stood since 1934.

The elderly owner had refused to sell the home for years despite being in the shadow of the hospital’s buildings, calling to mind the movie “Up.”

The hospital bought the house after the owner died in 2001 and used it for offices. When Children’s was ready to start expanding, the hospital offered the house for free if the new owner paid to move it. Children’s Hospital Oakland even threw in $20,000 to help with moving costs.

It was moved Oct. 18 to 51st Street.

Brown was mayor of Oakland from 1999 to 2007. At that time, Children’s Hospital Oakland was in danger of closing, noted Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson.

Speakers at Monday’s groundbreaking had to pause frequently as they were drowned out by BART trains whizzing by across the street.

“When BART was first proposed, the mayor of Berkeley at the time said it would never be built, it’s just another white elephant, it’s a crazy idea,” Brown said.

“But in fact it was built and had a tremendous role in connecting Oakland and San Francisco. Now here we have a hospital that is both Oakland and San Francisco,” he said.