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Medical Physician | Founder & CEO of PDP Health

San Francisco General Hospital’s Massive Upgrade

At the height of the late 2000’s economic downturn, San Francisco asked its residents to vote “yes” for Proposition A: an $884 million bond that would fund hospital renovations, bringing them up to new seismic standards and allowing them to accommodate more patients. Despite the grip of the recession, residents overwhelmingly approved the passage.

Now, some 8 years later, the San Francisco General Hospital’s Acute Care and Trauma Center will open to the public.

This project was unique in that the building renovations were funded by the Prop A bond, but that money only went to the technical infrastructure, not things like furniture and equipment that make a hospital actually functional. In order to secure those items, the hospital relied on generous gifts from donors throughout the area— private donors and corporations alike came together to donate $141 million for the hospital’s complete makeover. The largest gift— $75 million for those who are curious— came from UC San Francisco Resident Dr. Priscilla Chan and her husband Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social network Facebook.

The new wing, which will open in May, can withstand earthquakes up to an 8.0 magnitude and is a welcome upgrade to the old trauma center— what before held 58 beds now holds 283, and it is nearly double in total size. 90% of those patients rooms are private, too.

Much thought went into the overall design of the revamped hospital, and other medical centers could learn something from it. For example, the exterior is curved. This departure from hard corners means less traffic accidents as motorists navigate their way around the hospital. An abundance of glass walls also means the building is getting plenty of natural light, which can make a hospital stay that much more comforting for a recovering patient. And in compliance with a city initiative that allocates 2% of budgets to artwork, the artistic aesthetic of the hospital is also a refreshing change.

Sure, many of these upgrades may seem trivial, but it could also work wonders for the mental health of the patients.