Last month, I was happy to announce that we have come to an agreement with the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) to build two brand new hospitals and bolster its existing facilities in San Francisco. After a failed attempt to approve CPMC’s plans last summer at the Board of Supervisors, I joined two of my colleagues, supervisors Chiu and Campos, and entered into approximately five months of thoughtful and intense weekly negotiations with CPMC to secure their future here and to make certain that whatever deal was reached was beneficial for the City and County of San Francisco and the neighborhoods where the hospitals are located.
Previous plans called for a new 80-bed hospital at the St. Luke’s Campus and for 555 beds at the former Cathedral Hill Hotel site on Van Ness Avenue. Many concerns were raised about the lack of beds at St. Luke’s — which put its long-term viability in question — as well as concerns that there were too many beds planned for the Cathedral Hill location, creating traffic and congestion implications many thought the City couldn’t handle. Thoughts of losing CPMC were also troubling. The hospital currently employs 6,500 employees at all of CPMC’s San Francisco facilities.
CPMC and other hospitals throughout California have been under a deadline for years now to meet state standards for seismically safe hospitals. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Southern California, the California state legislature passed Senate Bill 1953, requiring hospital buildings be built or retrofitted to remain standing after an earthquake. The original deadline was 2008, but hospitals have applied for extensions that could reach the year 2020.
CPMC has been in ongoing deliberations with the City for years now over the building of new hospitals. When it was clear their plans were going to stall at the Board of Supervisors yet again last summer, I was determined to help find a solution. Not only are two of their existing hospitals in District 2 and incredibly important parts of the district, but I have always maintained that our future as a city would be much brighter with CPMC in it. I am thrilled that, after the months we spent in negotiations, we were able to come to an agreement that included two brand-new hospitals and a deal that incorporates the values and needs of the surrounding neighborhoods while ensuring access to world-class health care across in our city.
In District 2, CPMC will build a brand-new, 274 bed hospital at the former Cathedral Hill Hotel site on Van Ness Avenue at Geary. This state of the art facility will be CPMC’s flagship facility in San Francisco and will provide incredible access to modern health care for all San Franciscans. Construction is estimated to take approximately five years.
Upon completion of the Cathedral Hill Campus, CPMC will transfer all services currently offered at the California Campus near Laurel Village to Cathedral Hill, and it will ultimately enter into a process to sell the California Campus. In cooperation with CPMC, we have formed a neighborhood working group, which includes a diverse set of local interests adjacent to the California Campus, including merchant organizations, neighborhood groups, and religious institutions to advise CPMC on this sale process. My goal is to ensure the choice of CPMC’s successor at the California Campus is an appropriate fit for the neighborhood, and that the voices of local residents, merchants, and religious leaders are heard throughout the process.
Upon completion of Cathedral Hill Campus, CPMC will also convert the existing Pacific Campus in Pacific Heights to an outpatient medical facility. This means shutting down the existing emergency room, and it will significantly affect the local traffic patterns. The Pacific Campus will undergo significant renovation, and my office has worked extremely hard to ensure that CPMC and the neighbors surrounding the Pacific Campus are in constant dialogue regarding these plans. We will ensure that the renovation and use of the rebuilt Pacific Campus will be constructed in cooperation with the local neighbors.
Outside of District 2, this deal will have a tremendously positive impact on the delivery of health care in San Francisco. In addition to the new Cathedral Hill Campus, CPMC will rebuild St. Luke’s Hospital into a 120-bed facility, which is 50 percent larger than CPMC’s previous plans last summer. CPMC will embed multiple Centers of Excellence at St. Luke’s, which will continue to provide access to quality health care for all San Franciscans, and in particular it will provide a large facility for residents in the south and southeastern portions of San Francisco. CPMC will also continue to provide a specified level of charity care to the most vulnerable San Franciscans. CPMC will provide approximately $80 million in community benefits to San Francisco related to health care, transportation, workforce training, affordable housing, and pedestrian safety.
Lastly, as the new chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, and as someone who has taken the lead on tackling San Francisco’s $4.4 billion unfunded health-care liability, I am proud that this agreement also contains protections for the City against increased medical costs for the next 10 years. With Obamacare soon to be implemented, it has become clear to me that health-care providers, insurers, employers, and employees are all insecure about the future of health-care delivery. It was important that in the course of these negotiations we protected ourselves as a city against increased future medical costs.
San Francisco continues to be the envy of other cities throughout California and our country, and now we can add the construction of two brand new hospitals to the list of reasons why. The agreement we reached could not have been possible without the help of Lou Giraudo, a San Francisco native whose dedication to his city is unrivaled. I hope you will join me in thanking all of those involved in these negotiations, and look forward to watching as CPMC builds these new hospitals and builds a bright future for health care in our city.