On Mission Bay's 10th Anniversary, Hospital Construction Surges Forward

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay to Open in February 2015

By Kate Vidinsky

The new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, shown in this December 2012 photo, continues to take shape across the street from the research campus. Construction of the 289-bed state-of-the-art hospital complex for children, women and cancer patients is moving along swiftly, on schedule and on budget. Photo by Mark Citret.

Ten years after the UCSF Mission Bay campus was established, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay – the key patient-care component of the campus – is only two years away from opening. Construction of the 289-bed state-of-the-art hospital complex for children, women and cancer patients is moving along swiftly, on schedule and on budget.

In December 2012, the full exterior skin of the buildings and on-roof helipad structure was completed, and construction of the actual pad – which will be the only one operating on a San Francisco hospital – will begin next. Electric services have now been connected to the hospitals’ green energy center, which will provide power to the 878,000-gross-square-foot complex.

While the buildings may look finished from the outside, inside there is a beehive of activity, with 950 construction workers rapidly finishing the interiors and bringing the medical center to life. Working in waves from the 6th floor – the top of the building – down, patient rooms are now being painted, cabinetry and sinks installed, and bathroom tile laid.

Beyond the bricks and mortar of the buildings, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay aims to set a new standard in patient- and family-centered health care, sustainability, safety and translational medicine. When it opens to patients on Feb. 1, 2015, a dream more than 10 years in the making will be realized for Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, who has devoted himself to building the world-class hospital complex in the rich regional biotech hub of Mission Bay.

At the Forefront of Pioneering Care

“The sheer size and elegance of the new medical center is more spectacular than I ever had envisioned,” said Laret. “But even more striking is being able to integrate our hospitals with a world-class research organization that’s just across the street. It’s the synergy between clinical services and science that will continue to keep UCSF and Mission Bay at the forefront of pioneering health care.”

Mark Laret

Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

When asked what it feels like to be on the Mission Bay campus today and see how it has flourished, Cindy Lima, executive director of the Mission Bay Hospitals Project, answers simply, “It’s astonishing.” Lima also has been involved with the project from the very beginning, when Mission Bay was first developed and UCSF was holding its initial series of town hall meetings to jumpstart the planning process.

“I remember when UCSF decided to build its second major campus in a location people referred to as ‘down there by the driving range and dilapidated rail yards,’ and now it’s a vibrant place where everyone wants to be,” Lima said.

The $1.5 billion hospital complex will include a 183-bed children's hospital with urgent/emergency care, primary care and specialty outpatient services; a women's hospital offering cancer care, specialty surgery and a 36-bed birth center; and a 70-bed hospital for adult cancer patients. The combination of children's, women's and cancer services will facilitate a continuity of care for patients, with mothers of at-risk infants delivering immediately adjacent to the neonatal intensive care unit, and adult and pediatric oncologists working side-by-side.

“The new UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital at Mission Bay enables us to carry out our mission to provide improved health for every infant, child and young adult struggling with illness,” said Donna Ferriero, MD, physician-in-chief of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Cindy Lima

Cindy Lima, executive director of the UCSF Mission Bay Hospitals Project, speaks at the October 2011 "topping out" ceremony, marking the last steel beam placed on the top of the building construction.

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, which already has established itself as an international model of innovation, will incorporate the most advanced approaches to patient comfort, healing and safety, and will offer a full array of visitor amenities. The medical center also will be home to some exciting new clinical programs, including the nation’s first fully comprehensive twins center of excellence.

In addition, the integration of the hospital complex with UCSF’s 42.5-acre biomedical research campus at Mission Bay will promote interaction between research and clinical care programs, speeding the application of laboratory discoveries to the treatment of patients in the Bay Area and beyond.

“The new UCSF Cancer Hospital at Mission Bay will be close to the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building, where every day top scientists are seeking causes and cures for cancer,” said Peter R. Carroll, MD, MPH, director of clinical services and strategic planning at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “With the groundbreaking new cancer hospital, we will bring together researchers and clinicians to develop new treatments and to bring these new treatments to our patients more rapidly.”

The new UCSF Medical Center

The new UCSF Medical Center will feature 10 ground-level and rooftop gardens, totaling more than four acres of green space. The outdoor spaces will be integral to the facility’s sustainability strategies, promoting health beyond the patient to the surrounding community.

Sustainably Designed Using Healthy Materials

The entire project has been sustainably designed and will be certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Among other elements, its energy and water conservation measures and green spaces will be among the most extensive of any urban U.S. hospital. The project team also has worked closely with suppliers to identify and use healthy, non-toxic design materials throughout the facility.

“We envision a healing environment that provides connections to nature for all our patients, their families and hospital staff,” said Elena Gates, MD, chief of the UCSF Division of General Gynecology. “We look forward to a hospital where we can provide expert, evidence based care in a beautiful setting that welcomes women as patients and as caregivers for their family and friends.”

Fundraising for UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay has been robust, having raised more than $400 million toward its $600 million goal. The hospital complex is the only capital project in University of California history to attract two gifts of $100 million or more, including a $125 million matching gift from The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founder Charles F. Feeney, and a $100 million private donation from Lynne and Marc Benioff to the since-renamed UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. In addition to gifts received from individuals and foundations, the hospital is funded through a combination of debt financing and hospital reserves.

According to Lima, most construction will be finished by March 2014, which will be followed by contractor punch list items, completion of deferred areas like imaging, testing of all building systems, the completion of landscaping and the 4th Street public plaza, and installation of roughly 25,000 pieces of medical and IT equipment. The final months before opening will allow for equipment testing, furniture signage and art installations, operational scenarios and staff training.

“Sometimes I stand outside and look up at the buildings that span two blocks and I’m completely stunned – it can be a bit surreal,” Lima said. “There were times early on when the project stalled, and there have been incredible challenges along the way, but we kept pushing forward. Now we are on schedule and on budget and we are feeling the excitement from the folks who will be working in new facilities, and really, it’s a feeling that’s difficult to describe.”