Beneath a sign reading "Main Entrance," glass doors slide open, revealing an entryway with sky-high ceilings.
To the right sits a registration desk. At the left, some cushioned chairs offer seating in front of glass windows.
Over it all is a massive three-piece painting portraying the beauty of the greater Lodi area, from the rows of green grapes to the blue waters of the Mokelumne River.
This is the entrance of the new $187 million Lodi Memorial Hospital wing, a decade in the planning. Today, the first patients will begin moving in to the 90 new beds, which hospital staff have eagerly awaited in order to stem overcrowding.
It's Lodi Memorial's third major construction project in the nearly 60 years the hospital has been in Lodi. It opened in 1952 after two years of construction, then expanded in the 1960s. This latest project raises the total number of beds from 180 to 270.
The patient move had been scheduled for Monday, but everything was finished early and state officials signed off on the building Wednesday, so the move will start four days early, said hospital spokeswoman Carol Farron.
The patients will have plenty to see in what will now be known as the south wing.
"We wanted to take away the institutional feel of being in a hospital — no 'hospital green' color," she said.
Indeed, there is no "hospital green." The closest color is a kind of sage green, but it's a warm tone. The walls are painted various shades of tan, off-white and a bit of light blue.
Even the floors in the patient rooms are a laminate faux wood, giving the feel of a welcoming room, rather than cold tile. Hallways don't echo, thus avoiding the feel of cavernous spaces.
Hospital designers made use of the multiple floors by installing plenty of windows to let natural light in. At night, interior lights even allow drivers on Ham Lane to get a glimpse of artwork on the upper levels.
A closer look at the pieces of artwork — about 100 of them — reveal unique works by about 45 local artists. Many captured local scenes and gave glimpses of welcome sights, such as beautiful renderings of Yosemite and a modern, 3-D take on Lodi as seen from the air.
The goal, Farron said, was to make the hospital seem familiar to patients and their loved ones. A sense of serenity was also important, so designers included a "Healing Garden" in the center of the wing, featuring a circular walkway, water running over a brick wall, and a bridge and landscaping that could provide the setting for weddings.
And then there is the new emergency room, which will open in February.
Rather than providing 11 beds for those who stream through the ER doors at all hours at the current emergency room, the new center has 32 rooms. Some lead directly to an X-ray and imaging room, in order to expedite the process.
The additional rooms will allow patients to wait in rooms before they are treated, rather than in the lobby, Farron said.
Though visiting is limited due to H1N1 precautions, family members of those hospitalized will have plenty of room.
Each patient room has two chairs, one of which folds out to become a small bed for the visitor. The rooms all have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, a clock, a TV and a window with blinds.
Other rooms in the hospital allow family members to have some private time, including a "quiet room" where chaplains can meet with family.