On a gray dank afternoon, community activists, union members and local pols queued up on San Francisco's City Hall steps to denounce California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC)/Sutter Health's plans to close St. Luke's Hospital in the Mission District. They've been in this fight a long time: see this and this from 2005, as well as this and this from 2007.
The event was the second press conference about St. Luke's in two days. The earlier one was not a populist event. On Wednesday, CPMC sought to preempt growing opposition to its plans by announcing a "blue ribbon panel" to determine the future of the hospital, which is the only source of safety-net care other than the county hospital for residents of the south side of the city. That press event earned only a few vague paragraphs buried on page B3 of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Sacramento Business Journal offered a fuller account, though not one that clarified the corporation's intentions.
The group gathered at City Hall this afternoon were a lot more definitive. They want medical care that is available to the largely non-white and low-income people who live in the Mission, Excelsior and BayView neighborhoods and they don't trust Sutter.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano whose district includes St. Luke's said it simply: "I have never known Sutter to tell the truth. They don't know what truth is. They just know that profit is."
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi denounced the "blue ribbon panel" as "simply a warm, fuzzy way to close St. Luke's."
Union members were out in force. In addition to the nurses, United Healthcare Workers passed out a statement from its leader Sal Rosselli responding to CPMC's announced committee.
The organizations represented at City Hall today speak for a lot of people and they don't give up easily. When I got back from the press event, I found an email invitation which opens with this:
Sutter better watch out.