Hospital, San Francisco still far apart on Cathedral Hill facility 

The complex battle over a proposed 555-bed hospital on Cathedral Hill has gone on for six years, and the latest negotiations between California Pacific Medical Center and The City are likely to make it last even longer.

The nonprofit CPMC, San Francisco’s largest private hospital, wants to construct the $1.9 billion facility in a heavily trafficked area on the edge of the Tenderloin neighborhood. It also wants to rebuild the aging St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission district with scaled-back service and fewer beds.

In exchange for city zoning approvals sought by the hospital group, Mayor Ed Lee asked CPMC in May to pay a one-time fee of $108 million to mitigate impacts to affordable housing and traffic. Lee also asked that the hospital contribute an additional $34 million a year in charity care benefits to low-income patients, a request meant to be in addition to the hospital’s most recent documented contribution of $86 million in 2009.

CPMC spokesman Kevin McCormack said in May the mayor’s request was “fiscally infeasible” and would cost the hospital $2 billion over the course of a facility’s average 50-year lifespan, with no end in sight for payments after that. So CPMC made a counter offer last week in what McCormack called an “unprecedented commitment” — $1.1 billion, limited over 10 years, plus the creation of health clinics in the Tenderloin and Mission to serve low-income patients.

While the Mayor’s Office decides how to respond, Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes St. Luke’s, isn’t pleased. He said CPMC responded to the mayor’s request for more by essentially offering what it already contributes.

“We’re reviewing what they sent because they make a number of claims that may or may not be true in terms of benefits they are providing,” Campos said. “It doesn’t seem they’re really serious about getting a project completed. Unless they become serious, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

McCormack characterized CPMC’s offer as fair and said the whole negotiation has been fraught with politics.

“It’s a shame,” McCormack said. “This should be about health care, jobs and a new hospital for San Francisco.”

He said the offer from CPMC — which has come under fire for its lack of charity care — was not meant to be disingenuous.

“With charity care, we’ve gone to a higher level than in the past,” McCormack said. “We’re saying, this is what we can do, and now we’re committing to it.”

CPMC’s new hospital

$1.9 billion: Cost of proposed 555-bed facility on Cathedral Hill
$108 million: One-time payment requested by Mayor Ed Lee for traffic and affordable-housing impacts
$34 million: Additional charity care benefits requested by Lee
$86 million: CPMC’s charity care contribution in 2009
$1.1 billion: 10-year offer from CPMC

Sources: California Pacific Medical Center, Mayor’s Office

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