UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay: Cindy Lima, Executive Director

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In 2014, women, children and cancer patients will have a brand new 289-bed hospital complex in San Francisco. The finished product will be an 878,000 square feet expansion of University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, one of the top-10 academic medical centers in the country. It will be located adjacent to the current Mission Bay Research Campus which is part of a 303 acre redevelopment area of the city. The current and expanded Medical Centers serve not only San Francisco and the Bay Area, but provide specialized care to patients from all over the United States. Ground breaking for the construction project is expected to take place in late 2010.

“The planning for this project really began in 2000, so this is a long-term endeavor. It’s also been a marathon. Obviously, for UCSF we had to develop a vision for what this campus would be and that vision culminated in plans for specialty services for children, women, and cancer patients,” says Cindy Lima, Executive Director of the Mission Bay Hospitals Project. Lima has worked at UCSF in hospital administration, operations and facilities planning for 22 years now.

Creating New Facilities from the Ground Up

Current medical facilities for UCSF are operating at capacity. “We have long waiting lists of patients who need our specialized care,” says Lima. As well, seismic regulations for buildings in the state of California mean that some of the older facilities will have to be closed in the near future. This means the project began with a very tight deadline for completion.

Forty different user groups were involved in the initial stages. “The challenge was to help people see the big picture and that we needed to be reasonable and objective so that we could keep the project manageable and affordable,” says Lima. “The organization very much needed this project to happen and was flexible. Everybody sacrificed in one way or another, but managing the different planning groups, with everything happening concurrently and keeping track of communication and the decisions that were being made, this was a big job.”

The community at large was also consulted. For instance, the group proposed to have the city’s first hospital-based helipad, a subject that had traditionally been met by resistance in San Francisco. “Luckily, our campus is within two blocks of San Francisco Bay and that will work to our advantage since the primary path of the helicopter would be over the bay to the medical campus. We had years of meetings just around the helipad, including a test flight that involved the community, and we were ultimately successful in getting unanimous approval by the San Francisco board of supervisors,” says Lima.

Now the architect, general contractor and all the subcontractors are at work creating a virtual 3D building model of the new facilities. “We are working to maximize efficiency and Lean production and drive those dollars out,” says Lima. Fundraising is well under way to cover the projected 1.5 billion dollar project. The group has successfully reduced $200 million from the originally approved budget amount.

Building Green

The new facility should be among the greenest hospitals in the country as they target LEED gold certification. The building plans include 60,000 square feet of rooftop gardens and another 150,000 square feet of landscaped areas on the ground. They expect to save two to four million gallons of water each year, including a system which takes the blow down water from the cooling towers and treats it, then uses it to irrigate the rooftop gardens. Bio swells around the perimeter of the parking areas will clean storm water on site.

“We feel that we will be able to be 50% more energy efficient than the average US hospital, which includes an array of different strategies,” says Lima. “One of the things we’ve addressed uniquely is that we’ve gone through an unprecedented screening of the materials that will be used in building for toxicity, carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption and a variety of filtering criteria. The industry is not quite ready for this. We’ve had to do chemical screenings and the questions we are asking are not always welcomed by industry, but I hope we’ll put more pressure on them to develop healthful materials that we can use inside our centers as part of our mission to heal and to care for patients.”

Improving Health Worldwide

By building these new facilities near the current research campus, UCSF expects to further propagate the medical discoveries which are taking place there. “We see the impact as very far reaching, from the most intimate, local sense in terms of creating patient-centered facilities and jobs to the broadest impact of advancing health worldwide.”

“We want to make this facility the best it can be. In doing that, we’ve attempted to learn as much as we can from others, to be creative, to think outside of the box and deliver benchmark facilities that not only meet all the needs of our patients, from infection control to healing environments to operational efficiencies, but also to meet the needs of faculty and staff that deliver the care and also meet the needs of our visitors,” says Lima.  “UCSF is a large and complicated organization. Getting everybody moving in the right direction, especially during our program planning, was very challenging, but in the end extremely successful. Working with the community has kept me awake at times, but after years of meetings and years of working through issues, we are all very proud of the way things are turning out.”

-by T.M. Simmons

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