At the beginning of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital broke ground on a $290 million, 175,000-square foot research and office facility, funded by the University of California. Construction of the Research and Academic Building (RAB) is expected to be completed this year, with occupancy by early-2023.
RAB will provide space for offices, laboratories, and educational programs that’d been dispersed through several structures that don’t meet UC’s seismic safety policy.
“The research done at our laboratories have changed the way patients are cared for,” said Dr. Sue Carlisle, vice dean to the UCSF School of Medicine at ZFSG. “This building will be very important to consolidate teaching and research activities going forward.”
UCSF has been providing clinical services to San Franciscans since 1873. In the 1950s UC and the City signed an agreement to make all physicians at General Hospital UCSF faculty.
“We can’t run one without the other,” Carlisle asserted.
Responsibilities for different medical sections are divided between the University and the City, with the latter, for example, heading the departments of nursing and nutrition.
ZFSG is the City’s sole trauma center, equipped to care for patients suffering from major injuries from a gunshot wound, vehicle collision, or other incident. It’s also the region’s only Level 1 facility, capable of offering comprehensive care, including prevention and rehabilitation. The hospital accounts for roughly 20 percent of all health care, 30 percent of all ambulance rides, delivered in San Francisco.
“It’s what we call a ‘safety net hospital,’” Carlisle said. “We never turn away trauma.”
While the mandate to vacate older buildings not in compliance with safety policy was implemented in 2008, several extensions have been granted. In addition to the RAB, ZSFG’s 14-acre campus features iconic redbrick buildings, which housed tuberculosis patients in the past.
The University fields faculty from all four of its schools – dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy – who provide patient care, conduct research and teach at ZSFG. The hospital houses roughly 600 UCSF medical staff, including residents, fellows and medical students, about one-third of the university’s entire medical program.
The RAB features a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory, equipped to work with highly contagious diseases like tuberculosis and coronaviruses.
“We’re ready to handle emerging infections going forward,” Carlisle noted.
Research being conducted at ZSFG includes social sciences. By examining communal trends, such as patient backgrounds and demographics, the hospital can identify ways to better accommodate patient needs. There are also active investigations into how to treat and avoid traumatic injuries.
“Our research facilities have changed the way patients are cared for,” Carlisle said. “We’re in this for the long run.”