LHH's Medical Staff Requests Meeting WIth Mayor Newsom

The following e-mail was recently posted to the Union of American Physician’s and Dentist’s (UAPD) listserve.  Note:  The following letter was dated Tuesday, October 18, but delivered minutes before a meeting between Director of Public Health Mitchell Katz, MD and the LHH Executive Committee on October 19.

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 13:54:11 -0700
From: <snip>
To:    SF UAPD Listserve <UAPD-SF@yahoogroups.com>


City and County of San Francisco
Department of Public Health
Laguna Honda Hospital
375 Laguna Honda Blvd.
San Francisco California 94116

A Statement of Concern To: The Honorable Gavin Newsom, Mayor    Date: 10-l8-04

Our Concern
As representatives of physicians at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH), we are concerned about the upheaval in our institution over the past few months.  Along with a disputed change in our established admission policy, we have seen our experienced CEO, CF0, Medical Director, Director of Nursing and most of our executive secretaries terminated.  These drastic and threatening changes have left us demoralized and worried.

We are worried about the future of Laguna Honda — not just because of the disruption at the executive level.  We are concerned about the absence of discussion or information regarding the future role of this hospital.  We are worried about major changes occurring without the understanding, involvement or even an opportunity for participation by experienced Laguna Honda physicians and other dedicated professionals.  We are entering a critical planning phase in LHH’s future. We cannot afford continued public battles that are waged in the absence of any forum where all concerned can share information and collaborate in public service. Working together is sometimes challenging. but without consensus and collaboration, successful change is unlikely.

Our Appeal
One reason we send you this appeal is that your own administration has used outreach, consensus building, and respect for stakeholders so effectively.  Your public involvement in the LHH situation is now necessary.  To achieve positive change, the leaders and staff of LHH need to know what is your vision of LHH’s role in serving San Francisco. We are all committed to safely caring for San Francisco’s indigent sick whether young or old, housed or homeless.  We welcome those with addictive disorders and mental illness, and have much to offer them.  But we need to know what changes are in store in order to be part of the solution.

If we change the Admission Policy, the executive vision, and the patient population, then we have to address resources for managing these changes safely.  To date, the issue of patient safety awaits collaborative resolution.  We need to address LHH’s license as a Distinct-Part Skilled Nursing Facility, the demands of the Justice Department to avoid institutionalizing residents, and the concurrent drive to accomodate the homeless sick.

Our physicians are caught in the middle and we are not receiving adequate information or appropriate guidance.  We need information on whether the new Laguna Honda, for which many of us campaigned, will be a state-of-the-art long-term care facility. Or, like the state-of-the-art Mental Health Rehabilitation Facility (MHRF), will it be used for unintended purposes.

Our Request
Our best and most dedicated staff are losing confidence in the way LHH is being transformed.  If the staff feel devalued and disenfranchised, they cannot function optimally in patient care or in organizational affairs. It is becoming difficult to recruit and retain highly qualified and dedicated professiona1s in the current environment.  Our commitment, loyalty, and the maintenance of engaged care-giving at LHH would benefit greatly from your concerned response and involvement at this critical time.  We, our dedicated clinical and administrative colleagues, and ultimately the patients and families of the Laguna Honda community would be grateful for your guidance.

We respectfully request a meeting with you on the future of Laguna Honda Hospital.


Paul Isakson, M.D., Medical Director
Timothy Skovrinski, M.D., Chief of Medicine/Assistant Medical Director
Monica Banchero-Hasson, M.D., Chief of Staff

cc. Larry Funk, [LHH] CEO
     Mitchell Katz, MD, Health Director

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