sutterfull.jpgCommunity members living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District still have some concers about local impacts of a new hospital campus that came one step closer to moving into the neighborhood today.

Spurred by a state law requiring California hospitals to be seismically retrofitted by 2013, the California Pacific Medical Center, a nonprofit affiliate of Sutter Health, is in the process of retrofitting its facilities.

In addition to upgrading four existing campuses in the city, the medical center also has plans to create an entirely new campus at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard.

The draft Environmental Impact Report for the project was published on the city planning commission website today.

The proposed Cathedral Hill Campus will include a 15-story, 555-bed hospital at the northwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, and a medical office building across the way connected by a pedestrian tunnel running underneath Van Ness Avenue, according to the report.

The retrofitting expenses plus the cost of the new campus are expected to be about $2.5 billion.

The first public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Report is scheduled for September 23. Depending on feedback, project managers hope to begin construction in early January and open the facility for patient care by 2015.

At a Tenderloin District community meeting today, California Pacific Medical Center representatives presented current plans and asked for feedback from community members who would be directly impacted by the new construction.

Medical center representatives had also participated in previous meetings. In response to concerns from local residents, the medical center has already reduced the size of the new hospital building, changed the location of the loading dock area and the entrance to the emergency department, and boosted efforts to make the building more environmentally friendly.

Today, project managers said that building on the Van Ness Avenue site as well as the St. Luke’s Hospital site is expected to create around 1,500 construction-related jobs. In addition, the site expects to host 50 to 60 new entry-level positions.

A few community members today expressed concerns that the new jobs will not go to local residents, but project managers assured meeting attendees that the medical center is working with the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to make sure those jobs go to locals.

The medical center is currently the second largest private employer in San Francisco with 6,600 employees and 1,200 physicians on its medical staff. Nearly fifty percent of their employees live in San Francisco.

Tenderloin minister Glenda Hope asked about the types of services the hospital would offer to Tenderloin residents, many of whom live in poverty.

Medical center spokeswoman Paula Lykins said the hospital offers financial assistance for patients who fit criteria outlined on its website.

Lykins also said she hopes the hospital will help enroll more community members in the city’s Healthy San Francisco health care program.

“Anybody who walks into the emergency room, we will see them,” Lykins said.

Also addressed at today’s meeting were the fate of residential properties currently on the proposed Cathedral Hill campus, including 20 hotel units and five residential units. Those units would be demolished to make room for the new campus.

In order to mitigate the impact, the medical center has promised to find alternative housing for the displaced residents.

Project managers are also currently communicating with the Good Neighbor Coalition, a coalition of central city organizations monitoring the medical center’s new campus plans, about the possibility of a community benefits agreement–a binding contract that would ensure residents in the development area benefit from the new construction.

One controversial aspect of the Environmental Impact Report that did not come up in today’s meeting was traffic disruptions at the new campus on Van Ness Avenue. Traffic in the area is already congested.

The report suggests several mitigation measures to reduce potential traffic impacts, including traffic control at parking garages, and financially compensating the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency for the cost of providing extra Muni services that might be needed to accommodate the project.

Rendering of proposed hospital: CPMC

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