St. Luke's Woes
There is trouble at St. Luke's--which can't be fixed by simply building a stand-alone hospital.
Service for All--but Insurance for only 8%
St. Luke's is a private hospital that provides emergency care mostly for those without insurance. SF General, the only other San Francisco that provides care independent of need, is public.
Only 8% of St. Luke's patients have medical insurance.
$30 Million Annual Loss
Largely because so few patients have medical insurance, St. Luke's loses between about $30 million each year, which is subsidized by profits at other CMPC campuses.
Need a Better Payment Mix
While some argue that CPMC can afford to pay this amount, since its other campuses are quite profitable, that question should be beside the point.
St. Luke's is not operating at full capacity; it should be possible to get more people with insurance to go to St. Luke's while still serving the underinsured and uninsured population. This would make for a healthier hospital and a higher level of care.
"It's CPMC? Really? I don't Believe You."
Many people with insurance, including many who normally get their healthcare at CPMC, nonetheless don't think of St. Luke's as "their" CPMC. Even those living quite close to St. Luke's will go across town to one of the other CPMC campuses.
It is similarly hard to attract doctors to practice at St. Luke's.
Earthquake-proof by 2013
By state law, all hospitals must meet very high earthquake standards by 2013 (higher standards than are required for other types of buildings). The St. Luke's tower that currently houses the hospital will not meet the standards; and since retrofitting is too expensive, the tower will, in any event, not house a hospital after 2013.
That leaves two choices: close the hospital entirely or build a new hospital on the St. Luke's campus.
St. Luke's is faced with a daunting political situation which pits doctors and nurses, patients, CPMC/Sutter, San Francisco's elected officials, unions and neighbors against one another.
Just Close St. Luke's?
Given these various woes, perhaps it would be best simply to close St. Luke's.
That solution is too easy.
St. Luke's, for all its troubles, serves vital needs in San Francisco, both medical and economic.
No! It Should be Great!
Instead, we should be trying to create an environment that overcomes these obstacles and creates a great medical center for San Francisco.
Changes at St. Luke's
St. Luke's Woes