Smaller medical center at St. Luke's site pondered

The fate of St. Luke’s Hospital in the Outer Mission neighborhood, a facility at risk of being shuttered for financial reasons, will be considered behind closed doors today by the company’s board of directors.

Last year, California Pacific Medical Center, which runs St. Luke’s, said it planned to close the hospital’s acute-care facilities. Then, a blue-ribbon task force charged with looking for ways to save St. Luke’s came out with a recommendation in July to have CPMC build a smaller hospital in order to maintain emergency access to the residents in the low-income, ethnically diverse neighborhood.

The 26-member CPMC board of directors is scheduled today to vote on whether to adopt the recommendations.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who convened the panel, said Tuesday she was “pretty confident” that CPMC will follow the recommendations. “That’s my understanding,” she said.

A new community hospital should be built at the Cesar Chavez Street site before the existing facility is torn down, the panel advised.

The new hospital should provide emergency care, cardiology and respiratory surgery, and gynecology and obstetric care, and it should provide services specifically targeted at children and seniors, the panel advised.

Panelist Mitch Katz, head of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said he supported the recommendations.

“The committee has no financial resources and no ability to make it happen — so it’s all up to the board,” Katz said.

CPMC has done only preliminary planning for the possible facility, company spokesman Kevin McCormack said.

“The planning is at such an early stage that it would be pointless speculating about size, cost or timing,” he said.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, whose district includes the hospital, described the plan as a promising step.

“As usual, the devil is in the details,” Ammiano said by e-mail.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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