Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photoMIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO

Family of woman found dead at SFGH updated on the investigation

Authorities investigating the death of Lynne Spalding, a woman found dead on a stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital earlier this month, are seeking a person who reported someone lying on that stairwell several days before she was found, a family spokesman said.

David Perry, a spokesman for Spalding's family, said hospital chief of staff Dr. Jeff Critchfield called the family and their attorney on Thursday to update them on the investigation into her death.

Critchfield told the family that on Oct. 4 at 7:17 a.m., a man was heard knocking on the door of stairwell number 8, Perry said.

Critchfield said a female senior staff member opened the door, at which point the person who knocked reported that there was someone lying on the stairwell between the third and fourth floors, Perry said.

The person who made the report was apparently wearing a hospital badge, but rushed away after the report and has not stepped forward or been identified since then, Perry said.

Hospital spokeswoman Rachel Kagan today confirmed that Critchfield called Spalding's family on Thursday but said she could not confirm any details of the call.

Spalding, a 57-year-old woman who had been admitted to the hospital for an infection on Sept. 19, disappeared two days later.

Spalding, who family members said was frail and may have been confused due to medication she was taking, remained missing for more than two weeks despite searches of the hospital and surrounding neighborhoods.

Then on Oct. 8, she was found dead by a hospital employee doing routine inspections in a stairwell that had apparently not been checked during the previous searches.

The incident is under investigation by multiple agencies including San Francisco police and the sheriff's department, Kagan said.

The University of California San Francisco Medical Center will also undertake an independent overall review of San Francisco General Hospital's safety and security systems and will not be focusing in particular on the Spalding case, Kagan said.

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