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Digital Journal Reports

article imageCalifornia Hospital Plans Face Protests Special

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By Jonathan Farrell
Aug 29, 2010 in Health
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Dozens of people showed up on the front steps of the main California Pacific Medical Center campus on California Street at Maple on Aug. 12 to protest the ambitious "Master Plan" to upgrade healthcare services in San Francisco.
The California Nurses Association and the Coalition for Health Planning among others organized the rally that Thursday afternoon. They were met by two dozen uniformed security personnel strategically placed at various points at the main and side entrances and by members of the press.
By building a state-of-the-art facility at Cathedral Hill and rebuilding St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District, CPMC hopes to meet 21st Century demands for health care in the San Francisco area.
Yet, Registered nurses and senior citizens from throughout SF protested at the main campus at 3698 California Street voicing strong opposition to CPMC’s proposed plans.
The CNA and hospital workers unions see the Master Plan expansion as an elimination of critically needed skilled nursing beds at its California St. and St. Luke’s campuses. "Our protest today is about the fate of skilled nursing programs at CPMC," said labor union rep Nato Green.
Green told El Reportero that if CPMC gets its plans approved that would translate to a 30 percent reduction in services for seniors. "The City’s senior population is increasing and CPMC wants to reduce skilled nursing programs, just as it wants to reduce the number of hospital beds," said Green.
CPMC spokesman Kevin McCormack was present. He told the press that skilled nursing services would continue, especially as construction work gets underway. "We just released a plan draft to the Planning Dept. as well as an Environmental Impact Report," said McCormack. "In it contains all the required details, yet we did not include the number of hospital beds in the EIR," he said.
The nurses and hospital workers unions fear that in the big plans of the Master Plan scheme the needs of seniors and low-income people will be left out. Reducing hospital beds and skilled nursing programs will put a large portion of the City’s population at risk.
Not to have the tally of hospital beds mentioned in the submitted plan draft raises concern. "We don’t trust them (CPMC), " said Green.
McCormack told this reporter that the issue of hospital beds is exaggerated. "We already addressed that issue before assuring that beds will be provided," said McCormack.
On average the number of beds used is less than 90. Yet CPMC in its dialog with the Health Commission plans on maintaining 100 beds. McCormack sees the issue as simply a labor dispute. The new facilities when completed will be non-union. Workers will be allowed to join a union if they wish.
Despite the recession economy union workers are being offered a 2 percent wage increase and will have full benefits. Average salary is about $130,000 per year. "We have been in stalled contract negotiations since 2007," said McCormack.
A review hearing of the draft plans will take place on Sept. 23rd. Nato and the nurses’ union hopes City Hall will take a more critical analysis of the Master Plan future of CPMC.
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