The State of California has mandated that all hospitals in California be seismically safe by the year 2020. That means a lot of rebuilding and in San Francisco, two state-of-the-art facilities are on the drawing board. One cannot be built without the other.
Carmen Ramos has diabetes and has been a patient at St. Luke's for 13 years. "You feel relieved that they take care of you and I think that it's very important to feel like a human being," she told ABC7 News. The small safety net hospital in San Francisco's Mission District is slated for a new $300 million campus paid for by California Pacific Medical Center, CPMC, which also plans to spend $2.5 billion building another hospital on Van Ness.
The city's approval is contingent on Cal Pacific keeping St. Luke's open for at least 20 years. CPMC is balking at making an iron-clad agreement."I'm not willing to sign an agreement that would tie the hands of the CEO of CPMC in the year 2030 or 2035," said current CPMC CEO Dr. Warren Browner.
The controversy erupted when the president of the board of supervisors received documents he called "disturbing," that appeared to indicate Cal Pacific might try to pull the plug early on St. Luke's . "CPMC Sutter had promised years ago and continue to say to this very day that they plan to keep St. Luke's open. Unfortunately, the financial documents we have, which are the only documents that lay out CPMC's finances, say otherwise," said San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu.
An agreement CPMC negotiated with the city now seems in jeopardy. The chief of staff at St. Luke's blames the politicians. "I would like to see people put their politics aside and stop grandstanding between the mayor's office and the board of supervisors," Dr. Edward Kersh told ABC7 News.
The deal is perhaps not dead, but it needs resuscitation. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee still sounds hopeful. "I want them, again, to put it in writing. So, I'm feeling pretty confident that we'll move forward and I'm going to be pushing it," Lee said.
The supervisors held a meeting Monday and they were supposed to vote on the projects next week, but that's not going to happen.