Supervisor Sean Elsbernd on LHH

The following e-mail — containing meeting notes summarizing District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd’s understanding about some issues at LHH — was sent by Maria Rivero, MD; Attending Physician, Admitting Ward; Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center.

Editorial Note:  Explanatory information inserted into Dr. Rivero's summary by the web master is indicated in square brackets in green.

Subject: Supervisor Elsbernd Community Meeting
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 08:55:13 -0700
From: Maria Rivero, MD [e-mail address removed]
To:    <snip>

I attended a neighborhood meeting in District 7 [on Monday, October 25] 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, specifically:

1. Admission of violent/dangerous patients over the objections/protest of the doctors and other clinical staff [of LHH].

2. Restricting access to LHH by making SFGH first priority for LHH beds.

Supervisor Elsbernd responded by saying:

1. He doesn't know what the Mayor thinks, but after his meeting [in late August] with Dr. Derek Kerr [Attending Physician, Hospice Ward at LHH], Patrick Monette-Shaw [President, LHH Chapter, SEIU 790-Miscellaneous], Sister Miriam Walsh [Assistant Director of Pastoral Care, LHH], and Virginia Leishmann [former LHH Director of Nursing for 44 years], he called the Mayor and voiced the concerns that had been expressed at the meeting.

2. He believes in and will advocate for LHH being a resource for all San Franciscans.

3. He agrees that violent and/or dangerous patients should not be at LHH.

4. He acknowledges that Prop A was passed by the taxpayers in the belief that LHH was to be a resource for the elderly.  [Propisition A was the 1999 ballot initiative voters passed to authorize issuing general obligation bonds and to use of up to $100 million of tobacco settlement funds to rebuild the LHH facility.]

5. He thought that based on (misinterpreted?) statements made by Dr. Tim Skovrinski [Assistant Medical Director at LHH] that the compromise admissions policy [between LHH and the medical staff of LHH] had "solved the problem."  I assured him that this was not the case, and that the only reprieve afforded by the compromise admissions policy is that we can bring in patients from home who are in danger of life or limb WITH EQUAL PRIORITY AS SFGH PATIENTS. There still remain concerns about public access and SAFETY.

6. Another public hearing sponsored by Supervisor Elsbernd will be held to follow up on LHH either right before, or right after, Thanksgiving.  [The November hearing is to follow up on issues raised during the June 24, 2004 City Services Committee of the Board of Supervisors that focused on the dangerous admissions policy unilaterally changed by Director of Public Health, Mitchell Katz, MD.]

I asked him what his impressions were of the work of Dr. Katz (whom we are told is up for reappointment in January).  Supervisor Elsbernd stated he had been "very impressed" with Dr. Katz until his management of LHH had come to his attention.  I asked the Supervisor if he was familiar with what had occurred with the MHRF in 2002.  He knew of the MHRF [Mental Health Rehabilitation Facility], but was unfamiliar with the role that Dr. Katz had played in the changes there.

He stated that he had rented a storefront in West Portal and will be holding a rally there this Saturday [October 30, at his election campaign office, 319 West Portal Avenue] at 10:00 a.m. He volunteered that Mayor Newsom would be in attendance, and that I could take the opportunity to ask the Mayor his position on LHH at that time.

Please circulate and post this first hand account as appropriate.

Maria, Rivero, MD

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