Look no farther than the corner of Tassajara Road and Dublin Boulevard to see how competitive the valley's medical scene has become.
Three different health care organizations have facilities or planned facilities nearby.
The epicenter is 4000 Dublin Blvd. where ValleyCare Health System just opened an after-hours urgent care center. The center will operate from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
In that same building, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, an affiliate of the large Sutter Health non-profit system, already has medical offices for its physician foundation members. Sutter Health operates Eden Hospital in Castro Valley as well as Summit/Alta Bates in Oakland and Berkeley and has 20 hospitals across the state.
Meanwhile, the giant HMO, Kaiser Permanente, owns land near by in Dublin that could eventually be a hospital site. Kaiser already has medical clinics in Pleasanton and Livermore.
The ValleyCare move gives it a second urgent-care facilitythe non-profit system has operated one in Livermore for several years. The system has its full-service hospital across the I-580 in Pleasanton with its emergency room. It has 244 hospital beds spread between its Pleasanton facilities and its skilled nursing and senior mental health facility at the original hospital site on Stanley Boulevard in Livermore.
The hope for ValleyCare leaders is that folks who need care, but do not require the emergency room, will select the Dublin facility instead of the much more expensive ER. And, of course, it doesn't hurt to be in the same building as Sutter, in a facility that its developer originally promised for a hospital.
ValleyCare remains the unusual stand-alone non-profit health system. Longtime CEO Marcy Feit has built a series of alliances with top-flight hospitals such as UC Davis (cancer treatment) and UC San Francisco (neonatal) to expand access to specialists in the community hospital.
What the future holdswho knows how the Supreme Court will rule on Obamacare after its hearings this weekis unclear, but what is obvious is how many medical firms want to serve this insurance-rich market.
A few more winery notes: Fourth-generation winemaker, John Concannon of Concannon Vineyards, has spent a stunning amount of time on the road since returning to the winery more than two years ago. That was 130 days in the most recent year, a daunting schedule, but one that brought him in touch with wine retailers, restaurateurs and folks like wine.
He has witnessed the change in how consumers buy winebudget counts. For those folks drinking a special occasion $95 wine, it's now a $75 wine and the same trend carries across the board.
The sweet spots for his wineryas well as in the U.S. market he sees-- are the everyday good quality bottle for under $10 and then the $12-$15 bottle for Saturday night. No accident, Concannon has significant offerings in both areas.
Incidentally, pricing death in John's view is any wine retailing for more than $15 and less than $20. Forget about $17.99.
If you haven't visited the redone historic winery, do so and take the time to enjoy one of the more than 50 wines offered by the glass in the Underdog Wine Bar. To keep the wine fresh, the wine bar has six stainless steel storage units (an investment of about $30,000). The wines are complemented by a variety of small plate dishes (the slider sampler with a crab cake, pulled pork and cheeseburger was excellent).
The winery is open until 6 p.m. for tasting, while the wine bar stays open into the well into the evening.