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UCSF promises no layoffs to come after purchase of St. Francis, St. Mary’s hospitals

A sign reads "Emergency" and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.
UCSF aims to acquire St. Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center by the end of June. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

University of California San Francisco officials promised Monday there would be no layoffs following its $100 million purchase of San Francisco's St. Francis and St. Mary's hospitals from Dignity Health.

“No nurses, no staff, period, will lose their jobs as a result of the transaction,” said UCSF Health Vice President of Partnerships Shay Strachan at a Board of Supervisors hearing.

Strachan also promised to maintain a slew of specialized programs at the two community hospitals, including the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis and the Sister Mary Philippa Health Center and adolescent behavioral health program at St. Mary’s.

“It’s our commitment to maintain those services and all services that are currently offered,” she said.

Monday’s hearing was called as the California Nurses Association—the union representing nurses across the state—said that UCSF had been keeping it in the dark since the university-run organization announced the $100 million deal. Union nurses who spoke during the hearing worried that new leadership could bring similar results to the 2014 move by Children’s Hospital Oakland to affiliate with UCSF. After that deal went through, Children’s Hospital staffers criticized UCSF for its handling of the facility, saying it pulled crucial services out of Oakland and jacked up fees.

Margie Ramirez Yumul, a St. Francis Memorial Hospital nurse, called UCSF’s track record when taking over new facilities worrisome.

“This acquisition has raised significant concerns and ripples of apprehension within our community regarding the future of essential services and access to care,” Yumul said.

Another St. Francis nurse, Albina Guerrero, emphasized the importance of keeping services anchored at their Tenderloin-adjacent campus, where the hospital sits at a key location to meet its community-focused mission, which is to help many of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“It makes a difference when you have a patient that lives in the Tenderloin, where I work at St. Francis, for them to have to travel all the way to St. Mary’s hospital,” Guerrero said. “So even just leaving small services at these community hospitals is important for our patients.”

One clear similarity between UCSF’s 2014 deal and the pending acquisition is the university’s willingness to step in when a medical facility is in rough financial shape. That was the case in 2014 for Children’s Hospital, and is the situation today for St. Francis and St. Mary’s. The two San Francisco hospitals are losing a combined $10 million each month, Strachan said.

“These hospitals are in danger of closing, and we are preserving them,” Strachan, the UCSF representative, said.

UCSF aims to finalize the purchase by the end of June, according to Strachan. The University of California Regents greenlighted the health system to spend up to $100 million to acquire the two hospitals, and UCSF expects to spend up to another $100 million in its first year of ownership to cover pressing maintenance projects that have been delayed.

On March 5, the San Francisco Health Commission concluded that the acquisition wouldn’t have a detrimental impact on the city’s health care. The California Attorney General has ultimate oversight over nonprofit health care mergers and has not yet made a determination on the pending deal.

Noah Baustin can be reached at