Mayor Lee uses earthquake threat to boost CPMC support

Drawing on the specter of a massive earthquake that could leave the sick and injured in the streets, Mayor Ed Lee cautioned the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday not to hold up a proposed deal between The City and California Pacific Medical Center for two major hospital projects.

“I wouldn’t want any of the supervisors to feel the sting that if they didn’t move early on this, that we would fail before the next earthquake to have had two major hospitals in The City rebuilt, to the best interest of our citizens,” Lee told reporters prior to introducing the proposal to the board.

The estimated $2.5 billion project includes a new 555-bed hospital on Cathedral Hill at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Street and a rebuilt St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission district. State law requires all
California hospitals to be seismically safe by 2015.

The hotly negotiated deal between the Mayor’s Office and the Sutter Health affiliate — which itself took 11 months and has been discussed for years — also is touted as an economic stimulus. It would land a major new hospital in a central part of The City and generate an estimated 1,500 new construction jobs, nearly one-third of them local.

Critics, though, have expressed worries that the hospital group is getting more than it’s giving back, and concerns remain about traffic in the Cathedral Hill area.

But the mayor argues The City is receiving the best deal it can get from the privately owned medical group, which accounts for one-third of The City’s health care and is its second-largest private employer.

“We have two hospitals that are seismically vulnerable, and if we don’t move decisively on that, just as we did on S.F. General, we might regret it,” Lee said.

As it is, with hearings still pending before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, final approval on the project might not come until at least June, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Hospital deal

  • Two new seismically safe hospitals, including California Pacific Medical Center  management of St. Luke’s for at least 20 years
  • 1,500 construction jobs, 30 percent of them local hires; 6,600 current hospital jobs will remain
  • CPMC to contribute $86 million a year for 10 years toward health care for the poor; $62 million for affordable housing; $20 million toward The City’s community clinics; and $33 million for transit, streetscape and pedestrian safety improvements
  • CPMC will provide additional care for one-third of the 30,000 additional medical recipients estimated in The City under federal health care reform beginning in 2014
  • CPMC will maintain 100 long-term-care skilled nursing beds in The City
  • CPMC will cap its health care increases for city employees

Source: Mayor’s Office

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