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San Francisco Passes Nationally Significant Legislation Advancing Healthcare via Planning Process

Press Release Press Release, 11/17/10

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Incoming Lt. Governor Newsom Can Solidify Legacy as “The Healthcare Mayor” When Bill Lands on His Desk Nov. 23. Patients, Nurses, Community Leaders Applaud Votes of Board of Supervisors, Health Commission, and Planning Commission

(SAN FRANCISCO)—Registered nurses from the California Nurses Association, along with their patients and community healthcare advocates, cheered yesterday when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed historic legislation to allow the City to consider the impact on access and equity to healthcare when deciding whether to approve planning proposals for medical facilities. The program calls for a Healthcare Services Master Plan to be drafted to better coordinate care across the city, and restores the mission of the long-defunct West Bay Health Systems Agency to regional healthcare planning to increase access. After the master plan is completed through a public process, medical institutions seeking entitlements from the Planning Department would need to demonstrate that their services meet city needs for healthcare or offer other significant public benefits.

The 8-3 vote to pass the legislation follows votes by the Planning Commission and the Health Commission to support passage of the legislation and a seven-month process by sponsor Supervisor David Campos to draft the legislation in open and collaborative consultation with health advocates, nurses, community groups, healthcare providers, a broad cross-section of city officials, and the six co-sponsors of the legislation.
                    
“There’s a reason this legislation enjoys overwhelming support among not just healthcare activists, but planners in the City, including the Planning Commission: The system today is completely broken,” said Eileen Prendiville, an RN who has worked for 33 years in the NICU at CPMC. “For example, CPMC/ Sutter’s controversial Cathedral Hill Hospital plan has been stalled for over six years precisely because these tools have not been available. The City is being asked to consider a plan that will transform our healthcare for decades while wearing a blindfold about what our community really needs. Let’s solve this, and do it right.”

“As mayor, Gavin Newsom championed healthcare access through launching the successful Healthy San Francisco program,” added Zenei Cortez, RN, co-president of the California Nurses Association, which represents more than 5,000 RNs at San Francisco’s hospitals. “As lieutenant governor, he has pledged to continue working for universal access to care statewide. Nurses are counting on him to cement his legacy as the ‘Healthcare Mayor’ by standing up to corporate healthcare interests, alongside San Francisco’s patients, by signing the Healthcare Services Master Plan legislation.”

Le Tim Ly of the Chinese Progressive Association, a community group advocating for the legislation, added, “Low-income and immigrant communities are concentrated in areas with the biggest barriers to accessing healthcare. When our healthcare system is left to the business decisions of private companies pursuing their own interests, our communities will be seen as ‘unprofitable’ and will simply not get the care we need. We need the City to use every means, including land use, to advocate for the services our communities depend on.”

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