Inside look: $300 million Sierra Medical Center hospital project halfway finished

Also, Reno Orthopedic Clinic's $60 million downtown expansion remains on schedule

A look inside Sierra Medical Center in early April; the complex is being constructed with 4,000 tons of steel.

A look inside Sierra Medical Center in early April; the complex is being constructed with 4,000 tons of steel. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel / NNBW

You can’t see it yet, but you can see it.

“This is the hallway down to the emergency room, as well as imaging services, and we’ve got some nice cutout areas for seating along the way,” says Alan Olive, CEO of Northern Nevada Medical Center, wearing a hardhat and mask. “You can see that the locations matter. Imaging is right next to the ER, so if you had a stroke, or potential stroke, and were coming to the ER, you’d want to get into CAT scanning immediately.”

The distant rattling bursts of power drills and steady beeps of a forklift echo off the concrete floor. Stacks of sheetrock are waiting to be puzzled into interior walls. Steel columns stretch horizontally for hundreds of yards to an expansive space where an emergency room will live.

It’s a Friday afternoon in early April inside the skeleton of what will eventually become the Reno-Sparks region’s first new hospital in 100 years: Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center (SMC). By spring of 2022, a patch of land at Double R Boulevard and Longley Lane in South Reno will be fully transformed into a 350,000-square-foot medical campus.

Alan Olive, CEO of Northern Nevada Medical Center, stands on the construction site of the Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center project in South Reno. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel


“One year from now, we’ll be opening our doors to not only this community, but the entire region, for advanced healthcare,” Olive says with smiling eyes.


Sierra Medical Center is on schedule to open in March 2022, Olive said. Built with 4,000 tons of steel, SMC will house nearly 200 private patient rooms and an array of comprehensive services: emergency care, orthopedics, surgery, labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care, oncology, cardiovascular and neurological. Outpatient services will also be provided.

The project, which Olive said is an investment of nearly $300 million by Northern Nevada Health System, 
broke ground in February 2020. A month later, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the state and screeched many industries to a halt. For a moment, Olive thought the region’s first full-service hospital in a century might take longer than expected.

Construction of Sierra Medical Center broke ground in February 2020 and is on track to be completed in March 2022. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel


“We wondered, ‘what happens to the supply chain of all the materials coming?’” Olive said. “And we found that manufacturing was consistent. Steel, for example, was forged and manufactured and formed in the state of Utah — fortunately, it’s our neighboring state. It was really exciting to know that none of the manufacturing was impacted by COVID.”

Since truckloads of steel started rolling onto the property last year, Las Vegas-based SR Construction has led the construction of SMC. In all, the project has created 1,500 construction jobs, Olive said.

“That’s really great for our economy, especially during a pandemic like this,” said Olive, noting NNHS is using “almost 100%” local and state contractors. “When lots of places throughout the community and state in the nation are shutting down, we’re ramping up, using the proper protection, PPP and protocols. It’s a great story for construction workers and families to continue to blossom, while in the midst of a pandemic.”

The four-story Sierra Medical Center campus will span 350,000 square feet at Double R Boulevard and Longley Lane in South Reno. Courtesy: NNMC


Once construction is completed and SMC is seeing and treating patients, the hospital will create between 600-800 healthcare jobs in its first year, Olive said. That number will grow to roughly 1,200 jobs by year three, he added.

Olive said the design of the new facility will make it easy to navigate, inside and out, citing directional views and plentiful staff to help guide patients and visitors.

“I was delighted that a lot of the planning that went into this hospital in advance to COVID, actually met and exceeded a lot of what we would need in a COVID situation,” he said. “The design makes this ideal not only for regular care or intensive care or other care, but in a COVID situation, we have 100% private rooms. It’s designed specifically for privacy, safety and infection control.”

Seen here is the most recent rendering of the Sierra Medical Center, which will house 200 private patient rooms and an array of comprehensive services. Courtesy: NNMC


Northern Nevada Medical Center, the healthcare network’s acute care hospital in Sparks, has 122 beds — meaning, SMC will nearly triple the number of beds the healthcare network will provide the community.

“If you tracked the state COVID numbers, here in the north, there was really a big need for more beds and ICU beds,” Olive said. “We have the capability of converting any room to an ICU. And with the growth of our community, as well as the preference and need for private rooms and advanced technology, this is such an ideal time for this project.”


Meanwhile, in downtown Reno, Reno Orthopedic Clinic is responding to the region’s booming population with a $60 million expansion project.

Reno Orthopedic Clinic’s expansion project, seen here in January, is adding 76,000 square feet onto its existing 57,000-square-foot clinic at 555 N. Arlington Ave. in downtown Reno. Courtesy: ROC


ROC is adding 76,000 square feet onto its existing 57,000-square-foot clinic at 555 N. Arlington Ave. in downtown Reno, where the healthcare provider has been operating for 60 years.

Lisa Mead, CEO of ROC, said the company initially looked into taking the “easy route” — buying five acres of land and building a new campus from the ground up.

Quickly, though, company leadership realized taking the harder road — adding onto its existing facility — was the right path forward.

“This is so central to our patients that we decided to try to stay here,” Mead said. “If you look at where we’re located, and where all of the entities are healthcare-wise, and the university, it just made sense to stay here, even though it was considerably more expensive to build here.”

Lisa Mead, CEO of Reno Orthopedic Clinic. Courtesy: ROC


The project, Mead said, will bring all of ROC’s orthopedic specialties under one roof. Once complete, the center will feature a surgery center, advanced imaging center, clinical offices, physical therapy, and a post-operative recovery center. Further, the facility will house the Chiron Center — a bio skills lab and education center, offering specialized training for future healthcare providers.

Breaking ground in May 2019, the clinic’s four-story addition is led by Colorado-based developer and design-build firm the Neenan Company.

With mason exterior to complement the buildings in the surrounding area, the clinic features a three-story entryway with detailed glass and architectural elements, including curved canopies, vast windows and large columns.

As of mid-April, the expansion project is on track to wrap up in late September of this year, Mead said.

Seen here is a rendering of the lobby of the ROC’s $60 million expansion project of its clinic in downtown Reno. Courtesy: ROC


“We’re really proud of the fact that we stayed in downtown,” Mead said. “We’ve committed to being a part of the solution of making it a better place to be. And I don’t think we’ll ever be sorry we invested in downtown. I think we can be the first to start bringing that university component down here.”

With locations dotted in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Fallon, ROC sees about 214,000 patients each year. To meet the demand, the company’s workforce has grown to 480 employees.

“We expect that to bump another 20% in the next few years, because of the continual expansion of services,” Mead said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment