Coalition for a Downtown Hospital

Brief history, updated May 2010

Struggle to save downtown San José health care

1996 Columbia (now called HCA) the largest for-profit hospital corporation in the nation, bought San Jose Medical Center (SJMC), a downtown institution since 1923. SJMC staff and the public were assured retrofitting for earthquake safety would be done as well as modernizing.
1998 Alexian Brothers [now called Regional Medical Center (RMC )], 2½ miles from SJMC, was obtained. Columbia announced possible closure of SJMC in favor of expanding at RMC.
1999 In response to the initial threat of closure, Save San José Medical Center Coalition (SSJMCC), composed of concerned faith-based, labor, service and community organizations, was formed and now includes over 80 member organizations.
Research revealed that Downtown/East San Jose is the single area of greatest medical needs in our county.See box at right >>>>

SSJMCC engaged in many activities to bring our goals and mission to the public. This resulted in the San José City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors funding Henry W. Zaretsky & Associates, Inc. to do a Closure Impact Study (CIS) which was completed November 2004. The CIS stated that there was an urgent need for healthcare services downtown now and an increase of 200 general acute care hospital beds by the years 2015/2020.
HCA closed SJMC the next month (December 2004). Soon after that Save San José Medical Center Coalition changed its name to Coalition for a Downtown Hospital (CoDH). The closure of SJMC greatly impacted other hospitals in the county, particularly those closest to downtown and especially Valley Medical Center.

CoDH continued to promote and advocate for establishing needed medical services on the site while HCA wanted to demolish and sell to the highest bidder. Although HCA is the private owner of the property, the City Council stated that they would not change the zoning, which is public/quasi public hospital, at this time.
There now was agreement that the healthcare needs of our community was a serious matter and several attempts were made to address this. The last was the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) established by San José City Council in April 2006, consisting of various concerned community members interested in meeting the healthcare needs of the community and the land owner.
November 2007 The final SAC recommendations were submitted to the City Council. The healthcare aspect fell into three basic categories: 1) the need for primary care; 2) the need for urgent care facilities; 3) the formation of a City, County, stakeholders collaborative to work on healthcare issues facing the Downtown and the City.
March 2008 The City Council accepted the report and directed staff to to implement a plan that included: 1) The expansion of primary healthcare services in the Downtown area that would service the entire population; 2) The expansion of urgent or extended-hours medical care; 3) The initiation of the Joint City-County Health Care Planning Task Force to identify specific, viable sites for possible future hospital development that would service Downtown and North San Jose.
In discussions regarding the clinic service provider the Gardner Family Health Network was considered a strong candidate.

11-8-08 County Proposition Measure A passed providing for $790 million bond to rebuild Valley Medical Center's non-compliant buildings, as well as $50 million for new medical facilitates in Downtown San Jose to replace services lost when the San Jose Medcial Center closed. The County began the necessary process to ensure, to their sastisfaction , that the money is allocated appropriately, that is identify a site that meets all of their criteria. The good news is that the City and County are working together.
With the assurance of Measure A Funds and commitments from the Redevolpment Agency and HCA, the City explored plans for renovation and purchase of the 10 story Chavez Building adjacent to the SJMC site with the anticipation that Gardner would begin providing the services.
2-25-09 HCA filed for a Planned Development Permit for SJMC demoliton and it was approved
3-2-09 After much delay the Joint City/County Health Care Planning Task Force had its first meeting. However, the discussion was diverted and no progress was made regarding land site identification for a future hospital, which we consider vital.
3-18-09 The County Health and Hospital Committtee approved the process planning towards development of medical clinic faclities in Downtown San José using funds from the Measure A bond.
3-24-09 The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved the Measure A initial bond issuance of $350 million . It was verbally stated that $20 million of that would be allocated for the development of medical clinic services Downtown San José.
For the next several months the County staff explored possible appropriate sites for the Downtown primary and urgent care clinics and rejected use of the Chavez Building.
December 2009 In a surprise move the County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the SJMC Site where clinic services will be provided. Since then County staff has done their due diligence in identifying and rectifying any toxcity on the site.
From January to April 2010 we have met several time with Supervisor Shirskawa and staff to discuss specific issues related to the clinics establishment. The plan is to renovate the Mediplex Building, 16th St and Santa Clara. Necessary renovations and cost have been explored as well as getting appropriate approval from OSHPOD (state agency for medical facility oversite). Projection for completion is 2 years. The Gardner Family Health Network is still being considered as the provider for the primary care clinic.
3-30-10 Comunity meeting with Supervisor Shirakawa regarding demolition plans for the SJMC Site which is planned for early June to November/December.
12-9-09 and 2-25-10 The reestablished City County Stakeholders Hospital Committee met to explore with Planning Dept staff recommendations for future hospital land designation that would service both Downtown and North San Jose. The staff recommendation did not designate specific sites but designated land use categories in which there were hospital possibilites. This was presented to Envision San Jose 2040 at their 4-28-10 meeting. This was continued to the next Envision meeting in May.
3-22-10 Coalition for a Downtown Hospital presented recommendations for a specific land use designation for a future hospital site overlay along the Santa Clara and First Street Corridors through Downtown as well as other Downtown sites with good adequate transportation.
We continue to meet with Councilperson Dist. 3 Sam Liccardo and County Supervisor George Shirakawa as needed.

Our original research revealed that Downtown/East San Jose is the single area of greatest medical need in our county.
Highest infant mortality rate.
Highest concentration of medically at-risk senior citizens.
Highest percentage of of low income residents.
SJMC's trauma center was one of three in the county.
Downtown projected to undergo the greatest population increase in Santa Clara County in the next few years.



Coalition for a Downtown Hospital (formerly Save the San José Medical Center Coalition)
P.O. Box 1852, San Jose CA 95109-1852   408-923-7001, Spanish 408-379-7698   




The Coalition had organized numerous rallies, public testimonies, spoken at many meetings and collected more than 10,000 signatures on petitions. We met with City, County, State and Federal elected officials as well as HCA representatives.

Before the closure of the hospital in 2004, the San José City Council, the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission, the Human Relations Commission of San José, San Jose Mayors Ron Gonzales, as well as many other organizations, had all called on HCA to keep the hospital open.








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