Concerns about CPMC hospital project raised at rally outside City Hall 

An amalgam of community groups called the Good Neighbor Coaliton staged a rally on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday morning against development plans for the California Pacific Medical Center.

The hospital’s plan centers around a new primary facility in the form of a 15-story, 555-bed hospital at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard on Cathedral Hill, which will prompt eventual closure of a campus on California Street and reductions in beds at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District, where many of The City’s uninsured patients go in the CMPC system.

San Francisco supervisors Jane Kim and John Avalos, along with board President David Chiu addressed opponent concerns of charity-care availability, local hiring and union labor. City officials had been in negotiations with the hospital and coalition in February and March, but they were halted after the hospital said it wouldn’t expand the terms of community benefits agreement, according to Brad Paul, one of the Good Neighbor negotiators.

Chiu told the gathered crowd that the project has to “recognize the realities” of the vulnerable residents of the proposed hospital’s surrounding area and of The City at large.

Kim said CPMC’s record of serving the poor is “unacceptable.” The coalition presented Department of Public Health figures that show the CPMC system of hospitals provides below-average charity care compared to The City’s other hospitals, but Kevin McCormack, a media relations manager for CPMC said the nonprofit contributed $157 million to that cause last year after concerns were initially raised.

Also at stake is the use of union labor at the proposed hospital, which McCormack said would not be set up as a union shop for the California Nurses Association, but that doesn’t prohibit the group from attempting to organize. Unions are well organized at the CPMC locations where downgraded services are planned.

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