Providence St. Mary Medical Center, which opened its doors 66 years ago as a small 29-bed hospital in Apple Valley, will relocate to nearby Victorville as part of a partnership agreement with Kaiser Permanente.
The new 260-bed hospital will be part of a health care campus on Armagosa Road just north of Interstate 15 in Victorville. Providence Southern California, which acquired St. Mary Medical Center in 2016, will continue to maintain operational control of the new hospital while Kaiser will continue to arrange for the provision of all the health services for its patients in the new High Desert location.
“The new hospital will retain its Catholic identity and continue to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic health care,” reads a media release from Providence Southern California. “Both organizations respect one another’s philosophy of health care practices.”
Currently, mandatory public hearings are being held and the regulatory, building and land use entitlement process has begun. The new hospital is expected to open its doors in 2026.
Father Canice Nwizu, Pastor of Christ the Good Shepherd Parish in Adelanto and Vicar Forane for the High Desert Vicariate of the Diocese, said he thinks the new partnership has good potential to improve health care service in the High Desert.
“St. Mary’s hospital has been a very wonderful hospital for the people of the High Desert; [it] has worked with my vicariate and my parish in so many ways to help alleviate the problems of the people,” Fr. Nwizu said. “Partnering with Kaiser, I believe, will be a great idea for the good of the people of our communities.”
The relocation of St. Mary’s is also spurred in part by looming seismic safety standards at the existing hospital facility on Outer Highway 18 in Apple Valley. Costly seismic upgrades were to be in place by 2030. “It would be neither financially nor operationally feasible to bring it into compliance,” Providence officials announced.
Other factors include a fast-growing population of medically underserved people in Victorville, which has a 22.8 percent poverty rate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit our community so hard, highlighted the need for a new hospital that will meet our area’s growing health care needs,” said Providence St. Mary Chief Executive Randy Castillo, who will maintain his position at the new hospital location.
Providence and Kaiser Permanente continue to work with state and local officials to address any concerns and to obtain the necessary approvals for the hospital campus.
Originally named St. Mary Desert Valley Hospital, it was initially operated and staffed by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It saw expansions in the late 1950s and late 1960s. The Brothers of St. John of God took over staffing and operation of the hospital in 1969. More expansions followed and in 1992 the Sisters of St. Joseph or Orange joined the administrative team. The most recent expansion of St. Mary’s came in 1996, when it reached its current capacity of 219 beds.