“San Francisco: The Leading Center of Health, Healing and Hope”: Hospital Council of Northern and Central California


I wrote this report for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California in the fall of 2014 and it was presented at the Silver Spur Luncheon on Nov. 18, 2014. I include the summary here, as well as links to the full report and to the release.

Cover of SF health impact reportINTRODUCTION: A TRADITION OF CARING

From the earliest days of the Gold Rush, as San Francisco grew into a boom town and then a bona fide city, people established institutions to care for the sick and the injured. Even in that rough and tumble era, a health care industry emerged, spurred on both by need and by the entrepreneurial spirit of the times. Just as people sought to discover new means of wealth in those California hillsides, innovators pushed to improve the way people were cared for.

More than 160 years later, the health care industry is a $28 billion economic engine that drives San Francisco. It employs 121,000 people, more than any other sector, and about 20 percent of the city’s workforce. Nearly $5 billion will be spent to build five new hospitals before this decade is over. San Francisco boasts an explosion of more than 100 biotechnology companies, bringing the region’s genius to bear on some of the most vexing medical problems known to humanity. The city’s health sector serves as the epicenter of global innovation, where advanced science is translated into innovative care that ultimately improves health worldwide.

Yet even in this era of technological complexity, of regenerating stem cells and gene sequencing, of major economic impacts, San Francisco’s health sector has not forgotten its roots. Just as in California’s earliest days, care providers are focused on making sure people can enjoy the best health possible. The vast array of activities and investments that constitute our dynamic, modern health sector provide a necessary foundation that allows the community to thrive and improves the quality of life for all San Franciscans.

This report will give you a sense of the vast range and complexity of San Francisco’s health sector, which extends from neighborhood clinics to major university research hospitals, from innovative insurers to Nobel Prize-winning discoveries, from the hygienist who cleans your teeth to the emergency medical technicians who will rescue us when the next big earthquake hits. You will see the impact the health sector has on the economy and life of San Franciscans, including the extent to which a healthy economy depends on a healthy community. And we will examine the future challenges and opportunities facing the health sector, and what it means for the broader community.

The health sector is an essential part of the city’s infrastructure and helps keep our community healthy, vibrant and growing. San Francisco’s health sector is making our city secure and a global center of health, healing and hope. We all benefit from a strong health sector.

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