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John Harte / Special to The Californian

A garden at Mercy Southwest Hospital is shown in this file photo.

Dignity Health plans to build a four-story, 120-bed addition on the eastern end of its 150,000-square-foot Mercy Southwest campus at Stockdale Highway and Old River Road.

The new $150 million tower would allow the hospital to expand existing services such as women's health and neurology, as well as add new ones, such as cardiology, potentially creating up to 600 permanent jobs.

"We've had the campus in the southwest since 1992, and since that time there's been so much growth in Bakersfield west of (Highway) 99," said Mercy President Bruce Peters. "We need a bigger hospital to accommodate all the patients who want to come to us."

The 20-year-old campus has 78 beds now, and would have 198 beds after the project is finished.

But that could take a while, as any plans first have to be approved by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, a state agency that regulates healthcare facility construction.

The approval process alone often takes from a year to 18 months, depending on how much tweaking is done along the way, so it might be three years before construction begins, Peters said.

The money for the project will come from revenue from operations, capital funds and the Dignity Health Foundation, which will be embarking on a fundraising campaign, Peters said.

Mercy Southwest is one of three local campuses in the Dignity Health system, along with Mercy Downtown and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital in the northeast.

This is the second major project at the southwest campus announced in as many years. San Dimas Medical Group opened a 26,000-square-foot building on a parcel at the northwest corner of the campus last year. In addition to OB/GYN services, it offers ultrasound, lab, pharmacy and massage therapy.