San Francisco Chapter of Gray Panthers
Concerned About LHH's Future

The following news article appeared in the October issue of San Francisco’s Gray Panthers newsletter.


Dangers to Laguna Honda
by Michael Lyon

Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH) is in danger of being downsized and changed from a nursing home for the elderly and frail to a “[social] rehabilitation facility for the [urban] poor.”

In 1999, voters approved Prop A, funding $400 million to rebuild LHH at its present capacity of 1,200 beds, with the remainder of funding from tobacco money. Though building costs have increased, the City is determined not [to] exceed the 1999 amounts, even if it means cutting 300-400 beds.

In addition, the City is determined to use LHH to solve its budget problems at SF General Hospital, by transferring SFGH patients, many with severe behavioral problems, to LHH’s cheaper care when the patient’s state funding times out. As many as 300 remaining beds in the new facility will be used for these patients.  These patients are already being transferred to the current LHH, over LHH doctor’s strenuous objections, and both staff and other patients have been intimidated and assaulted.  A “serious” Cal-OSHSA workplace safety citation and a lawsuit have resulted.

By 2020, the City is expected to have 92,000 more residents over age 65.  According to DPH’s own data, if all San Francisco’s current skilled nursing facility [SNF] beds are retained, there will still be a shortage of 1,288 beds, even if a huge effort is made to find alternative modes of care, such as community-based or home-based care.  Without such effort, the shortage will be 2,380 beds.  In the last decade, 200 private SNF beds were lost to conversion to more profitable Ambulatory Care beds.   Now the City wants to cut hundreds of more beds for seniors.

Everyone agrees we need more community-based and home-based care and homeless care, but the need for skilled nursing facility beds will remain.  Please come to the events listed in this issue’s calendar.

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