San Francisco Plans Construction of New Medical Center
To alleviate some of the "strain" and financial burden on San Francisco General Hospital, Mayor Willie Brown (D) on Friday "threw his support behind" a proposal to construct a new medical center across the street from the "aging" facility, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Under the mayor's plan, the new facility would house an emergency room, acute medical and surgical beds, an intensive care unit and operating rooms. San Francisco General's current facility would remain open and be used for outpatient clinics, labs, outpatient radiology, skilled nursing beds, administrative offices and record storage. With a price tag of "at least" $474 million for the new center, taxpayers would pay most of the costs. Of the total costs, $9 million would be used to renovate San Francisco General and $21 million would go toward additional parking. The city plans to place a bond issue on the November ballot, while other supporters hope to secure state and federal funding for the project. The city's public health director, Dr. Mitchell Katz, said the alternative to new construction would be to seismically retrofit the current facilities at a cost between $90 million and $120 million. However, just strengthening the current facilities would not comply with the "even stricter safety standards" that take effect in 2030.
Employees at San Francisco General were "alarmed" that the hospital would shrink, but Katz said the hospital "had a hard time accommodating ... patients as it is." Supervisor Mark Leno did not "embrace" the construction proposal, but said he would prefer instead to "shore up" the existing hospital. He said, "I thought a $100 million bond was very sellable and seemed to take care of our immediate needs. If we need something more, I'll need to be convinced. However, I'm glad to know this is a top priority." Katz, however, said the mayor was pushing forward with the plan. He added, "The question now is not will we do it, but how we will do it." San Francisco General serves about 100,000 patients each year, but has "fallen on dire fiscal times" as the number of uninsured patients it treats has increased, while reimbursements from Medicare and managed care companies have fallen (Gordon/Torassa, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.