Muscular-diseases hospital to open in S.F. 

After years of planning, The City is welcoming a new hospital specializing in the treatment of debilitating muscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

California Pacific Medical Center has been working with neighbors for four years to finalize plans for a new four-story 46,000-square-foot building, located on the corner of Noe Street and Duboce Avenue, next to the campus of the Davies Medical Center.

The development of the hospital has been a process of compromise with residents concerned about parking, traffic, landscaping and how the building will fit in with the residential neighborhood.

"It’s been a very interesting working relationship," said Richard Magary, of the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association. "We don’t have final answers yet, but certainly they have been very receptive."

To help ease traffic congestion, employees will be compensated for riding public transportation and the main entrance of the hospital will be built across the street from the Muni N-Judah stop on Duboce Avenue. The hospital will also be blended in with its neighbors by adding landscaping to the street already lined with pine trees and building extra-wide sidewalks similar to those in the area. Victoria Steiner, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the neighbors’ concerns have helped with the design of the hospital.

Steiner said expanding the full-service hospital is important because it will add on-site offices for specialized doctors who will no longer have to travel far distances to treat patients staying next door. The project will also include a rehabilitation center to treat patients suffering from strokes and muscular diseases. Construction on the new wing could begin by the end of the year and take up to two years to complete. It is still waiting for final approval from the Planning Commission and the Building Department.

But on Thursday the hospital broke ground on a new 3,000-square-foot outdoor terrain park that will also be used to help patients recover from serious conditions. The park, one of only three in the country, will be used to help patients recovering from strokes, orthopedic surgeries and other debilitating conditions through rehab in a simulated real-world environment.

Mary Lanier, the hospital’s chief administrative officer, said usually patients go through therapy "in the gym or our therapists will take people on the street but its not safe." The project, slated for completion in 2007, will have sidewalks, sand and even a bus for patients to learn how to walk again. Lanier said the idea for the park came partly out of community demand.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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