A brand-new, earthquake-safe, 120-bed replacement for St. Luke’s Hospital on Valencia Street will be completed in 2018, open to patients by 2019, and its older version will be demolished sometime after 2020.

That’s according to Dean Fryer, a spokesperson for the hospital, and Paul Klemish, HerreroBOLDT’s Director of Business & Risk Management, who is one of many leading construction efforts at the hospital. The lag time between the completion of construction and the official opening is due to a stocking and licensing period that can take around six months.

The Cesar Chavez Street entryway as planned for the new St. Luke's Hospital. Image courtesy HerreroBoldt

The Cesar Chavez Street entryway as planned for the new St. Luke’s Hospital. Image courtesy HerreroBoldt

The main feature of the new hospital will be its resilience in crisis – it’s designed to continue functioning in case of a major earthquake or other disaster.

“That’s when the neighborhood needs it the most, during an earthquake,” Klemish said.

Unlike the existing hospital, which was built in 1970  when safety requirements were very different, the new structure is collapse-proof during an earthquake and has built-in storage for vast quantities of water that can sustain operations at the hospital at full capacity for 72 hours. Back-up systems will keep the power running for 72 hours.

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

The Cesar Chavez entry in its current state. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Future Emergency Room. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Everything will  also be a bit roomier.

“If you went into an older hospital, the operating rooms would be smaller,” Klemish said.

Joint replacements, open heart surgery, and robotic equipment require space to move and work, he explained, which the new operating rooms can more easily accommodate.

The new hospital is also shifting away from shared rooms for patients admitted for hospital stays. Each patient room is now individual, with its own sink, bathroom, and large window, many of them with a view.

“The need for overnight stays has gone down as treatment improves,” Klemish said. Hence, more space to accommodate single rooms – which also give patients more peace and quiet.

“Those staying in a hospital are really there because they need to recuperate,” he said.

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Workers at lunch. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Paul Klemish explains how things work. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

The Emergency Department will also have a few updates – including a covered ambulance bay so no patient needs to be wheeled out of an ambulance through inclement weather. Imaging rooms are also nearby, unlike in other hospitals, to reduce travel times for patients who need x-rays and other imaging after they arrive in the emergency room.

Over the course of the construction, workers have run into a very familiar San Francisco problem: Finding parking. HerreroBOLDT, the project builder, offers an incentive system for workers, in which they collect points each time they use public transportation to get to work and can trade those points for rewards like iPads or high-quality work boots. But the project also has a full-time parking manager who coordinates parking space leased in bulk from nearby facilities to keep workers from clashing with local residents over parking.

The total cost of the project racks up to $550 million. Klemish said one of the focal points of the project for Herrero BOLDT was that as much of that money go to local workers and businesses as possible.

The company’s goal is that 14 percent of the total construction revenue goes out to San Francisco based builders. 30 percent of the hours worked in the field, Klemish said, must be logged by San Francisco workers, most of them making almost $30 an hour, with electricians generally making closer to $50 an hour. 

“Usually if I’m in a larger group [of workers], I say, who was born at St. Luke’s? And usually I get at least one,” Klemish said.

The view from the top of St. Luke's. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

The view from the top of St. Luke’s. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that 70% of the field hours on the project are to be worked by SF residents. The goal is actually 30%. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.