Public Testimony and Commentary...

Here are other voices regarding LHH, and information the news media has not reported.

News Item


News Flash: Long-Scheduled Town Hall Meeting at LHH
Suddenly Cancelled!

November 1, 2004
Suddenly, and without warning, a long-planned “Town Hall” meeting scheduled to be presented by the LHH Replacement Project Team was first moved to another room, on the same date, but with a different meeting title and audience, and no time was announced.  It was cancelled at the last moment potentially to stifle public debate about the future of LHH.

Mayor Newsom Hears
First Hand About LHH

October 30, 2004
At the invitation of District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, two members of the Laguna Honda Medical Staff and Sister Miriam Walsh attended a rally at Elsbernd’s West Portal election campaign office on Saturday [October 30] in order to ask Mayor Gavin Newsom where he stood about LHH.

 Will LHH Become a “Social Rehab Center for the Urban Poor”?
October 19, 2004
Dr. Mitchell Katz introduced one John Kanaley as the soon to be LHH CEO to the Hospital Executive Committee today.  Dr. Katz was variously described as being under pressure, unusually nervous, etc.  However, he delivered a 45 minute oration which included his vision for LHH [as being] a “social rehabilitation facility for the homeless poor.”  The Health Commission is now putting spin control to work, denying that Dr. Katz used these words.  At the October 28 LHH Joint Conference Committee, one of the Health Commissioner’s noted that Dr. Katz had simply “used a poor choice of words,” but a source who witnessed the meeting notes these were the words Katz used before the Hospital Executive Committee.

Supervisor Elsbernd
Weighs In About LHH

October 25, 2004
Dr. Maria Rivero, Attending Physician on the admitting unit at LHH reports:  “I attended a neighborhood meeting in District 7 with Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.  I asked him where he stood (and the Mayor as well) on the drastic changes to Laguna Honda Hospital by Dr. Mitchell Katz, Director of Health.”  Read more of Dr. Rivero’s report and Supervisor Elsbernd’s responses.

LHH Doctors
Request Meeting With
Mayor Newsom

October 18, 2004
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 respectfully request a meeting with [the Mayor] on the future of LHH.

Testimony Presented at
the LHH Joint
Conference Committee

October 28, 2004
Three committed citizens — a small, thoughtful group of individuals — bravely testified each in their unique own ways, at the October 28 LHH Joint Conference Committee, a subcomittee of the Health Department charged with setting public policy issues affecting long-term care in the City’s sole publicly-funded nursing facility for the frail elderly.

An LHH Doctor’s
Concerns About LHH

November 2004

Maria Rivero, MD, attending physician on the admitting unit at LHH, expresses her concerns in the November edition of the West Portal Monthly, a newspaper serving the jursidictions surrounding LHH.  She notes that the communities surrounding LHH need to know about drastic changes occurring that could affect neighborhood safety.

Iinstead of caring primarily for the elderly and disabled poor of San Francisco, Rivero notes Dr. Mitchell Katz, the Director of [Public] Health, wants LHH to do “social rehabilitation for the urban poor.”

As a result, frail elderly, disabled, ill and dying San Franciscans may be displaced, while more dangerous patients may be housed at LHH for “social rehabilitation.”


Louise Renee Requests
Meeting With the Mayor

November 11, 2004
In this peice, we learn that former City Attorney Louise Renne, now a director on the LHH Foundation’s Board of Directions, has requested a meeting with Mayor Newsom, most likely in order to voice concerns on behalf of the LHH Foundation that LHH’s changing mission runs contrary to the will of the voters, and possibly conflicts with the mission of the Foundation.  

We also learn that between March 1 and November 1 in 2003 vs. 2004, admissions to LHH from SFGH increased by 36.6%, while at the same time admissions from other facilities plummeted by 40.2% and admissions from home dropped by 39.4%, suggesting that LHH’s changing mission has drastically altered the ability of San Francisco’s frail elderly to be admitted into LHH.

Gray Panthers On
LHH Downsize

October 2004
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.  

Homeless Start Fire
Near LHH’s Forest Hill

November/December 2004
In March 2004, a fire — eventually determined by the Fire Department to be purposeful arson — was started within Laguna Honda Hospital.  Now there has been a fire set in the Forest Hill neighborhood by homeless people, endangering not only LHH’s neighboring homeowners concerned about the increasing number of homeless encampments surrounding LHH, but also threatening the LHH campus.

Health Commission
President Chow’s 1999 Letter to AsianWeek

October 28, 1999

In this AsianWeek article, Dr. Chow noted that during the 1990 decade, Asian American admissions into Laguna Honda Hospital had risen to 17 percent of the total number of LHH residents, and that number would go even higher as the population of San Francisco ages. Chow also noted that over 58 percent of the healthcare professionals at LHH are Asian American, “making it a good economic reason to keep the public hospital open” in order to provide those jobs for the Asian American community.

However, now five years later, there is great concern that the replacement facility for LHH may cut the number of beds from 1,200 to perhaps as few as only 800 due to a $44 million to $50 million cost overrun. Indeed, one of the goals in the recently approved and updated Department of Public Health strategic plan is to complete the LHH facility “on budget” and “on schedule,” making no mention of “on scope” ... meaning, not at the full 1,200 beds promised voters who passed the bond measure to finance the rebuild project.

There are anecdotal reports that Asian employees at Laguna Honda Hospital have noted a decline in Chinese referrals to LHH, and they are quite concerned about both the loss in the number of beds that will be available to the Asian community, and also the loss of jobs of Asian American employees at LHH should the facility be downsized.



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