New St. Luke’s breaks ground in Mission

City and hospital officials broke ground Friday on a new Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center at the St. Luke’s campus in San Francisco’s Mission District at an event that marked the culmination of years of negotiations between city and hospital officials.

The new state-of-the-art hospital will be constructed adjacent to the old hospital on San Jose Avenue just south of Cesar Chavez Street, CPMC spokesman Dean Frye said.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee attended today’s groundbreaking ceremony and dug out a symbolic shovel full of dirt. Lee said via Twitter:

CPMC chief executive officer Warren Browner joined the mayor and members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to celebrate construction of the new St. Luke’s campus, which will begin in October, Frye said.

The new hospital comes after years of negotiations, including a 2012 development agreement that was shelved by members of the city’s Board of Supervisors, in part because of concerns over an escape clause that could have let CPMC close St. Luke’s hospital if its operating margin stayed negative for two straight years.

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The new deal hashed out in 2013 omitted the escape clause, required that at least 30 percent of construction jobs go to San Francisco residents, and included higher contributions by the hospital group to the city for charity care.

The other new CPMC hospital is currently under construction at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard. Both hospitals are scheduled to open in 2019, Frye said.

Browner said the world-class hospitals would “integrate the most advanced technology available” and provide an “opportunity to change the delivery of health care for decades to come.”

Frye said the current St. Luke’s hospital will remain operational until the new hospital is built and no interruptions to patient care are expected. Patients will be relocated into the new hospital and the old hospital will eventually close down and be demolished.

A medical office will be constructed on the site of the former hospital, he said. According to Frye, the 120-bed capacity of the new hospital is greater than what is currently needed.

He said that because the hospital would be built with buckling-resistant braced frames to withstand significant seismic activity, it would remain equipped to respond to a large-scale emergency, such as an earthquake.

Frye said St. Luke’s hospital would be prepared to handle the ballooning population of The City and is designed to attain LEED certification thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions by using less water and energy.