Laguna Honda opening in sight 

Along the stark, eggshell hallways of the new Laguna Honda Hospital hang tapestries that tell a history that goes back to 1867.

It’s a visual journey juxtaposed on the walls of a thoroughly modern convalescent home and nursing care facility. Some tapestries, however, are conspicuously missing. There’s no picture of Mayor Gavin Newsom cutting the ribbon for the opening of the new facility — at least not yet.

The $584 million facility should house patients by the end of the summer, two years behind schedule and with an entire building taken out of the final plans. And the opening relies on more rounds of certification from the state.

But for a small group that made the project happen, the wait was well worth it. The hospital could be the first green-certified hospital building in California and it’s bedecked with almost $4 million worth of art.

The hospital will hold 750 residents at the skilled-nursing facility. They will live in 15-person households with a living room, and each patient will have a window to look outside.

The hospital rebuild was originally approved in 1999 as a $437 million general obligation bond measure. The project was slated to be complete in 2008. Funding also came from money from a tobacco lawsuit, along with fundraising from the Laguna Honda Foundation.

Louise Renne, the former city attorney who helped pass the original bond measure, said there were many obstacles during the construction of the new building, set to be publicly unveiled June 26.

“But we haven’t had to compromise with the quality of the facility,” Renne said.

A rehabilitation center, complete with two indoor swimming pools, will accommodate up to 60 patients. Executive Administrator Mivic Hirose said the end result will provide “privacy and dignity” to residents.

Other than the art and architecture, the biggest change for patients will be in the dining room, according to Hirose.

Instead of slopping food on patients’ plates in an assembly line, residents will have their meals served family-style.

“San Francisco has a lot to be proud of,” Hirose said.

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Brent Begin

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