State law gives hospitals until 2013 to meet strict seismic standards or shut down.
"Sutter wants to use money to fuel their corporate expenses in markets that are making money or have the potential to make money," Sal Roselli, president of the United Healthcare Workers<\d>West, said.
Roselli believes the CPMC wants to close the emergency room at St. Luke's and more or less turn the hospital into a clinic, perhaps once the Cathedral Hill location is completed; Sutter, he said, promises to maintain community services during its hospital takeovers but often backslides on those promises within months.
CPMC spokesperson Kevin McCormack doesn't outright deny the possibility that St. Luke's will someday see vastly fewer ER patients.
"St. Luke's is still going to be a vital part of anything we do in terms of providing health care in San Francisco," McCormack said. "We intend to strengthen its role not just to keep it going, but to make it better. Because right now what happens is that a lot of people don't have access to preventative care, so they end up using the emergency room when they have a problem with, say, diabetes or asthma."
But Ammiano remains skeptical.
"If we allow this to happen and if we can't find alternatives," he said of the cuts at St. Luke's, "it's really going to not just tear a hole in the fabric of that neighborhood but also the whole southeast section."