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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kaiser in Potrero Hill or Bayview?

Last week, representatives from Kaiser Permanente came out to Daniel Webster Middle School for a city-mandated pre-application meeting regarding their proposed 700,000 sq-ft residential and medical office building located on the majority of the block bordered by 16th, 17th, and Mississippi Streets.

Kaiser has posted the boards they presented at the meeting on their website at http://www.kaiserpermanentepotrero.com/  and they have also provided space on their website for community feedback.  Save the Hill, an organized group of Potrero Hill residents opposed to the facility, have already been providing lots of feedback, and were also represented at the meeting.  They were joined by supporters and by groups from the Bayview who have proposed that Kaiser consider locating the facility there.  What appeared to be missing from the Kaiser presentation was any reasoning behind NOT locating in the Bayview.  To my mind, it would be beneficial for their patients and the communities involved to better be able to decide if the Potrero Hill location makes sense for them if Kaiser were able to articulate why it is that alternate locations are less desirable.

While locating in Potrero Hill would provide Kaiser a great location for their logo to be seen by thousands of passing freeway motorists, those eyes on their sign may be temporary.  What happens if 280 is brought down, as has been suggested and seems to be making progress as a real idea so as to make way for high-speed rail, road reconfigurations through the area, and more development around the 4th St Caltrain station?

If that happens, then a Potrero Hill location loses all of its appeal as a billboard and the decision then has to be one based solely on where patient need is (which is the only really important criterion anyway).  The alternate idea being advocated by Save the Hill and its partners is to locate the Kaiser facility in the Bayview.  While some uninformed folks have taken to the internet to spout off that a Bayview location would be ridiculous because people in Bayview and Visitacion Valley aren't Kaiser patients, the numbers tell a different story.  Nearly 11% of Kaiser's current patients live in these neighborhoods, Excelsior/Ingleside has 12.6% of Kaiser's patients, while Inner Mission/Bernal Heights has 9.5%.  Potrero Hill and South of Market make up only about 5.5% of Kaiser's San Francisco-based patients.

For seven of ten SF neighborhoods identified by Kaiser as feeding this new facility, the South San Francisco location is currently closer than the Geary St location.   So for patients in these neighborhoods, how does access to a new Potrero Hill site compare to a hypothetical one in the Bayview?

For Excelsior, Ingleside, Bernal Heights, Visitacion Valley, Bayview, and Portola, who make up nearly 35% of Kaiser's total SF patients, a Bayview location is between 7 and 38 minutes faster to get to by transit than the current closest Kaiser location (SSF).  Furthermore, it would be 14-25 minutes faster to go to a Bayview Kaiser than it would to one in Potrero Hill.  While Bayview is closer than SSF for all, a Potrero Hill location remains farther than SSF for Excelsior, Ingleside and Bernal Heights patients (20% of Kaiser's SF patients), so they would still be best to continue going to South San Francisco.

Only patients from the Mission, Potrero Hill, and Mission Bay, for whom the Geary St location is currently closest, would have shorter travel times to a Potrero Hill location, with time savings of between 2 and 22 minutes.  However, according to Kaiser, these areas will only provide 5-7% of the new facility's patient load.  Thus, for 93-95% of the patients they hope to serve, travel time to the Potrero Hill location would either be longer than to their current facility in SSF, or slower than to a Bayview site.

The Bayview also makes sense from other perspectives.  According to Kaiser, they have provided $30,000 in Community Benefit grants to the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco’s Willie Mays Clubhouse in Hunters Point. Additionally, Kaiser Permanente NCAL Region provided a $1 million grant to establish a Health Eating Active Living (HEAL) Zone, which provides resources to the Bayview community.

Locating a medical facility in the neighborhood where they're already philanthropically involved and that would be easier to get to for the vast majority of the patients that it aims to serve simply makes the most sense, doesn't it?

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