SF General to Open Trauma Center this Year, New Research Facility Soon After

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Final touches are being made to the renovated San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and Trauma Center building, scheduled to open in December. The new hospital inpatient tower was funded by Proposition A, passed in 2008.  Public monies amounting to $887 million were recently supplemented by a $75 million donation from Priscilla and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Even after completion of the massive project SFGH renovations are likely to continue.  The San Francisco Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Health Commission recently endorsed a non-binding lease agreement with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to build a research facility on a hospital parking lot.

The new research center would be constructed on the lot located next to the current emergency room, called the “B/C lot.” Under the tentative deal, the City would lease the B/C lot to UCSF for $180,000 a year, with an annual rent increase of 1.75 percent. The lease would extend for 75 years, with a 24 year extension option. The proposed agreement has to be approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, according to Mark Primeau, advisor to the DPH director of health.

The $160 million research facility would be five-stories, spanning 175,000 square feet of space.   It would feature both wet – areas that require specialized fixtures for chemical use – and dry labs, which are used mainly for theoretical analysis, computer simulations, and dry chemical storage.  The center would centralize research already being conducted at different UCSF locations throughout the City, including teams at the Orthopaedic Trauma Institute, Brain and Spinal Injury Center, Positive Health Program/Ward 86 (HIV/AIDS), and Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Much of the research done by UCSF at SFGH is focused on trauma injuries and HIV/AIDS. 

A goal of the new facility is to attract world-class researchers, explained Sue Carlisle, vice dean of the UCSF School of Medicine. “Without modern facilities we will have a difficult time recruiting researchers and retaining the ones that we already have,” she said.  “[UCSF] has a very large research team there already; we have about 109 principal investigators, and employ around 800 people. This brings in around $150 to $200 million a year in research grants. And this all takes place on SFGH campus.  Much of the research done by UCSF is in old red brick buildings from 1915, which no longer meet UC seismic requirements.” The University of California hopes to have all of its staff relocated into seismically fit buildings by 2019.

To accommodate increased demand for parking in the area – and make up for the loss of the B/C lot – SFGH hopes to add an additional 307 spaces for patients and visitors, and 260 spaces for faculty and staff, by 2020, according to Rachael Kagan, DPH director of communications.  DPH has been working with the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) on plans to expand a parking garage on 24th Street, with a proposal likely to be presented to the SFMTA board this fall. 

With a number of wards moving into the new inpatient building, space within the existing primary hospital will become available.  As a result, the Renal Center at SFGH hopes to add 17 chairs to its existing 13.   Expansion of outpatient dialysis services would be part of a larger bond measure that’s being planned by DPH. The measure also includes a $30 million upgrade of the Southeast Health Center on Keith Street to accommodate growing demand, according to Primeau. Other elements may include an ambulance and firetruck repair yard. “[DPH] is still refining the numbers and scope, but there’s a placeholder in the Capital Plan for $222 million, for the June 2016 ballot,” said Primeau.