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Sutter Health to continue treating subacute patients in SF amid backlash

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California Pacific Medical Center’s Sutter Health announced Monday afternoon that all two dozen patients in the unit at St. Luke’s Hospital would be transferred to its other hospitals in San Francisco rather than outside of The City, a day before the Board of Supervisors planned to hold a hearing on the closure. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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With political pressure mounting, a San Francisco health care provider has abandoned plans to stop treatment for bedridden patients in the subacute unit at a hospital in the Mission District.

California Pacific Medical Center’s Sutter Health announced Monday afternoon that all two dozen patients in the unit at St. Luke’s Hospital would be transferred to its other hospitals in San Francisco rather than outside of The City.

The announcement comes a day before the Board of Supervisors planned to hold a hearing on the closure. There are no other subacute units in San Francisco to provide long-term, around-the-clock care for patients who are often on ventilators.

SEE RELATED: St. Luke’s subacute unit closure to have ‘detrimental impact’ on SF

Last Wednesday, the Health Commission unanimously agreed that the closure would have a detrimental impact on health care services in San Francisco.

Families worried that their loved ones would be moved as far away as Los Angeles because of the lack of space at subacute units in the Bay Area.

“I’m in a little shock,” said Lenata Anderson, who feared that her 83-year-old husband Richard Anderson would die if he was displaced from the subacute unit to another city. “I’m so very happy.”

The problem remains that the hospital system has only agreed to continue treatment for the 24 patients of concern. San Francisco still needs to figure out where it will open permanent subacute beds.

“We have won a victory for our family members, but the victory has not been won for anybody else,” said Laurie Anderson, the daughter of Richard Anderson. “Today it’s us, but tomorrow it could be any one of you.”

The hospital plans to transfer the patients when the new CPMC hospital on Van Ness Avenue opens in August 2018. The patients will likely be moved to the new Van Ness hospital, the new Mission Bernal hospital or CPMC Davies.

CPMC CEO Dr. Warren Browner said in a statement that the company tried to find care for the patients outside of the hospital system.

“But given the enormous difficulty of securing these alternate beds and the inherent challenges our families face, we decided the best option would be to continue to serve them in the CPMC system, here in San Francisco,” Browner said.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the neighborhood on the Board of Supervisors, said that hospitals in San Francisco and the Department of Public Health need to work together to remedy the shortage.

“This immediate crisis set light on an emerging, larger issue that we have in San Francisco,” Ronen said. “We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that there is after-care when patients need it. We have a gaping hole in our system that we need to fix.”

Supervisor Ahsha Safai called for the hearing at the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Safai called the announcement “a big victory for the families that have been living in fear of being kicked out of the hospital.”

Safai said he plans to have hospital officials discuss the agreement in public Tuesday. Then, he plans to involve in the solution hospitals like Laguna Honda Hospital and Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.

“They knew that this was not going to end until there was essentially a humane solution,” Safai said.

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