Critical care - Page 4

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

Ly ventures that the hospital industry's approach will be to try to lessen the impact of the legislation. "As written, it still provides the Planning Commission and the board with the discretion to approve projects," Ly said. "Ultimately, the struggle is about values. Just because there are plans and guidance doesn't mean the healthcare needs of the community will become a top priority — it just provides us with tools to make an assessment."

Campos counters that his bill will allow the city to create incentives for, and apply pressure on, the hospital industry. "If they truly want their projects to be expedited and approved before state-mandated seismic retrofitting deadlines kick in, they'll propose plans that work for the community," Campos explained.

But even as it publicly vows to be supportive, the Hospital Council continues to express concerns about the Campos legislation. "It's the council's job is to be supportive now that the board has approved Campos' plan," Smith said. "And Sup. Campos was very generous. He started talking to us in June. But we really didn't get a handle on his proposal until much later. We think the idea of healthcare planning is very good. We still have concerns about the process, but now the board has voted on the legislation, our goal is to do our best to work with the law."

Concerns that the legislation would be used to mire projects in repeated appeals and give too much weight to critics' concerns was raised at the Nov. 16 hearing by Sup. Sean Elsbernd.

"Right now, if anyone has concerns, there's a conditional use process and a CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] process," Elsbernd told the Guardian. "But this turns up a brand new appeal. It means the appeals are heard at the same time, but you've now created a third route."

Campos responded to these concerns by amending the legislation to clarify that the board must act on consistency determination appeals at the same time it acts on other related appeals, so projects won't be delayed.

Evidently this wasn't enough to appease the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "We cannot be supportive of that piece of legislation," Rob Black, the Chamber's vice president of public policy, told the Guardian after the legislation was approved. "We believe appeals should be done at the Department of Public Health in conjunction with service providers, since San Francisco provides 20 percent of service, and private organizations provide the remaining 80 percent."

Black says the Chamber was pleased Campos amended his legislation so as not to slow down projects that are currently in the planning pipeline. But he claimed Campos' legislation could actually limit access to healthcare services. "The Chamber is concerned that Campos' legislation will make it harder for doctors to pool together in pods, and if we don't do that, it won't make healthcare more available because services will be more expensive," Black said. "But we absolutely think" the city should analyze gaps in providing health care to San Franciscans.

Campos' aide Hillary Ronen confirmed that Black is correct in saying that anyone can appeal a hospital project's consistency determination. "But the final analysis will revolve around asking if the proposed project meets the health care needs of San Francisco," she said. "If it doesn't, and the board doesn't believe there's a compelling public policy reason to approve the project, [the board] can override the approval."

 

PATIENTS VS. PROFITS

Mary Michelucci, a registered nurse for 40 years and a member of the California Nurses Association, is hopeful that Campos' legislation will rein in the hospital industry.

"I hope that any plan that would favor patient care over profit would be the way to go," Michelucci said. "Running a hospital is expensive. But with the profits that Sutter and CPMC are making, they can afford this."

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