Critical care - Page 3

How the debate over CPMC's controversial multi-hospital project revived the idea of healthcare planning in San Francisco

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A big health care outfit has giant plans to transform SF's hospital infrastructure -- unless the city can demand a better plan
GUARDIAN ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN UELAND

"St. Luke's Hospital was the big issue that got our attention," Le Tim Ly, lead organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association, told the Guardian. His group has worked with residents in the city's southeast sector around environmental justice, air quality, and pollution issues when they became aware of the threat to St. Luke's. "All this, coupled with efforts to downsize Luke's, left us alarmed by the disproportionate impact on an already impacted area."

But alarm over CPMC's plans has now revived the idea of healthcare planning.

 

MAKING A PLAN

As recently as the beginning of November, representatives for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California — whose members include CPMC, Chinese Hospital, Jewish Home, Kaiser Permanente, Laguna Honda, St Luke's, St. Mary's, San Francisco General Hospital, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center — seemed opposed to any change in the way healthcare planning is done in San Francisco.

At a Nov. 1 hearing on the Campos legislation at the board's Land Use and Economic Development Committee, Ron Smith, the Hospital Council's senior vice president for advocacy, said his organization favored maintaining the city's current procedures. "We would like to propose that the Health Commission does the planning, the Planning Commission does the land use, and that there is a required determination process which is in the current legislation," Smith said. "We're proposing that that continue."

But two weeks later, after Campos amended his legislation so projects now in the planning pipeline are exempt from having to comply with the city's health care services master plan, some members of the Hospital Council seemed to have a change of heart.

CPMC's Chief Executive Officer Warren Browner surprised just about everybody when he publicly stated in mid-November that CPMC supports health care planning. "We strongly support the efforts of the city — we are in favor of health planning," Browner said at a Nov. 15 hearing on the legislation.

"That statement was extraordinary," said Lucy Johns, recalling CPMC's history of resisting government control. "The conversation about this legislation has already changed the discourse, at least in public."

Linda Schumacher, chief executive officer of Chinese Hospital, a community-owned, not-for-profit facility, explained at the same hearing that her organization had been concerned that Campos' legislation would affect her hospital's ability to move ahead with a $150 million project that has been in the pipeline since 2003.

"We thank you for that amendment that allows the effective date to be changed," she said.

"It shows how much progress had been made, even before this legislation goes into effect," Campos said of the hospital industry's apparent shift in attitude. "It's a monumental step, something that was not expected as recently as a few months ago."

But Ly of the Chinese Progressive Association said he believes the Hospital Council still doesn't want to see the city getting involved. "As recently as a month ago, their folks were speaking out against any kind of legislation. But I think they started seeing the writing on the wall."

Ly fretted about the potential negative impact of Campos' last-minute amendments. "Sup. Campos' plan represents a victory. But we could use that information as soon as possible. The 2013 deadline means the city will be handicapped: it will have information it can't use yet."

Comments

Thanks to the guardian, I am now aware that the new facility - excuse me - MEGA facility - on cathedral hill will be checking income levels before anyone is treated there.
Clearly the median income on cathedral hill = that of pacific heights so any MEGA facility built there will only be for the most massively rich people.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2010 @ 10:21 am

My friend J. recently developed acute appendicitis and had an appendectomy at one of the hospitals in this group. Without complications it cost him sixty thousand dollars. This is predatory health care and a disgrace to basic human decency. San Francisco doesn't need it. Neither does America.

Posted by Private Citizen on Nov. 24, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

Thanks to the Guardian, I am now filled with dread, fear, panic and anger—over unneeded involvement from an inept City Hall. If the vocal activist minority becomes even more vocal and stirs up enough worry and tsuris with absurd hypotheticals, enough people will freak out and demand... something, anything. And wannabe-Mayor Campos can win the day for just creating more committees, have lots of meetings, pull out the red tape and especially get lots and lots of "community meetings" where 20-30 people can shout all night, validating themselves in one big activist circle jerk.

Just think—everything we hate about centralized municipal transportation planning in San Francisco, now applied to centrally planned healthcare delivery. Maybe the Nurses Association should start learning how to become MUNI bus drivers. In a popularity contest, it's pretty neck-and-neck who San Franciscans are starting to hate more.

Jesus, just move these hospital projects along. Perfection is the enemy of progress. But maybe we need one more community outreach program.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

That is NEVER a good sign.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 26, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

What good has come from central planning in general in SF? Muni? This system of non-English speaking bureaucrats seems pretty inept on every level. Since the last big earthquake, a number of SF's few hospitals have been closed, including Childrens and Letterman. Where was the planning commission and the Bay Guardian then?

This juvenile sniping at the Van Ness hospital, which replaces the ugliest building in the City with a very valuable asset that will be essential during the next earthquake or major disaster, is absolutely absurd, particularly coming from the SUV driving, Starbucks latte swilling, white-guilt/self-righteous writers of this communist rag.

I'm all for socialism, but SF's government is far too incompetent to be insisting on 5 Year Plan micromanagement of industries it has little capacity to benefit. I've been to the People's SFGH several times, and ring up $40-70,000 bills related to a single broken bone or two. Healthcare costs are ridiculous everywhere, not just private hospitals.

If SF wants to micromanage other hospital systems, perhaps it should start with its own DPH, which isn't exactly a model of good stewardship. It's worse than many third world clinics I've visited, and costs more than the supposedly evil (non-union) private hospitals doing business in the City.

Posted by Daniel Eran on Nov. 27, 2010 @ 10:51 am