On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to postpone for two weeks a vote on an environmental impact study of a construction plan by the California Pacific Medical Center, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
CPMC -- an affiliate of Sutter Health -- was expected to lose the vote and had requested the postponement (Cote, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).
The city is negotiating a $2.5 billion construction plan by CPMC that includes building a new 555-bed facility in Cathedral Hill (California Healthline, 6/13). The deal also includes building a new medical office building in Cathedral Hill and rebuilding St. Luke's Hospital in the Mission District (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).
Details of Environmental Impact Study
In April, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved the environmental impact study (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 7/18).
A coalition that includes the California Nurses Association, San Francisco neighborhood groups and housing advocates appealed the decision.
The coalition argued that the study is flawed because it does not properly consider the effect a large hospital would have on the city's traffic, pollution and housing.
The Board of Supervisors also found problems with the study and postponed the vote until July 31 after a Sutter Health official agreed to take steps to restart stalled negotiations with city officials.
Michael Duncheon -- general counsel for Sutter Health's West Bay Region -- said that the extra time would "not be wasted." He added, "CPMC is ready to talk about a structure for future discussions."
However, CPMC spokesperson Sam Singer said that reworking the environmental impact report would delay construction for 18 months to two years, which would cost millions of dollars. Singer added that the delay would be untenable for CPMC because it is facing a 2015 state deadline to retrofit its hospitals.
Details of Negotiations
According to the Chronicle, there also have been problems with construction plan negotiations that do not relate to the environmental impact study (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (D) recently said that he will not agree to the construction plan unless Sutter Health agrees to keep St. Luke's Hospital open for 20 years.
City officials are questioning the trustworthiness of CPMC officials after the hospital's internal financial documents were made public earlier this month.
The internal documents show that hospital officials considered cutting hundreds of jobs, paying significantly less in charity care than the amount included in the construction agreement and closing St. Luke's Hospital after four years, despite a pledge to operate it for 20 years.
A hospital spokesperson said the documents were "drafts that were discarded and not used" (California Healthline, 6/13).
On Wednesday, Lee said that he has been in regular contact with CPMC officials and has spoken with them since the board's decision to postpone the vote.
Lee noted that both the city and the hospital have a lot at stake in the negotiations.
He said, "It's important to remember that if this doesn't happen, we don't get two major hospitals seismically rebuilt, and that's a real loss to the city" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).