California Pacific Medical Center is organizing a protest at its St. Luke’s campus today over what it claims are unreasonable demands by the city related to its proposed Cathedral Hill project and a plan to rebuild St. Luke’s Hospital.

CPMC, part of the Sutter Health network of hospitals, is proposing to construct a new hospital at Cathedral Hill at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, and to rebuild and seismically upgrade St. Luke’s as required by state law.

In exchange for the right to move forward with the Cathedral Hill project, Mayor Ed Lee has asked CPMC to agree to pay for affordable housing, street and pedestrian safety improvements, charity care for low-income patients, and other costs.

Additionally, the mayor has asked CPMC to continue operating St. Luke’s as an acute care hospital with an emergency room for the next 20 years.

Officials with CPMC say Lee’s demands add up to nearly $2 billion in additional costs over the coming decades above previous recommendations and agreements.

CPMC spokesman Kevin McCormack said hospital officials are taking issue with the price tags of the city’s requests, which he said are “way more than anyone can afford to pay.”

McCormack added that “a lot of the commitments the city is asking for are open-ended, and it’s impossible for any company to make that financial commitment year after year after year and hope to stay in business.”

CPMC announced a counterproposal Tuesday, saying it was committing to a community benefits plan worth $1.1 billion, on top of the $1.9 billion in costs to construct the new hospital at Cathedral Hill and to rebuild St. Luke’s.

“After six years of planning, outreach, public hearings and discussions with the city, we are ready to move forward,” Dr. Warren Browner, CEO of CPMC, said in a statement.
“We hope this proposal will help the city find the will, and the way, to approve our plans.”

Lee mentioned the negotiations with CPMC after an unrelated news conference at City Hall on Tuesday, saying he had not fully reviewed the counterproposal but “would like for them to sit down with me” to further consider the city’s offer.

“I believe that our proposal was reasonable and solid,” he said.

“It was viewed as large, but at the same time, their project is large.”

The rally at St. Luke’s was scheduled for noon today.

McCormack said hospital staff members would participate.

“It’s something they’ve been fighting for years,” he said.

“All these demands are really threatening them,” he said. “They’ve worked too hard to let this go now.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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