A number of patients have suffered abuse at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, officials revealed earlier this year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Health department flip flops, now confirms 130 patients affected by Laguna Honda abuse scandal

Officials retracted previous statement, denied number of new clients uncovered in investigation

Department of Public Health officials apparently erred when asking to retract their public hearing statement that the number of patients affected by the abuse scandal at Laguna Honda Hospital had grown to 130.

The number of patients affected by the abuse scandal has, in fact, grown to 130, according to information the department provided Friday afternoon upon request of the San Francisco Examiner.

The patient abuse scandal was first made public in late June when city officials said 23 patients were impacted. Allegations include violation of patient privacy rights, physical and psychological abuse and life-threatening drugging.

Troy Williams, chief quality officer for Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, told the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee Wednesday that new evidence from forensic analysis of cell phones used by former Laguna Honda staffers expanded the number of impacted patients to 130, the Examiner first reported. He said the additional patients affected largely had their privacy rights violated, such as by appearing in the background of photos taken.

Brent Andrew, a spokesperson for Laguna Honda Hospital, contended on Thursday that Williams “misspoke” and should have said there were an additional 130 incidents, not residents. He requested the Examiner correct the story.

But when asked Thursday to clarify how many more patients were impacted, Andrew would not provide a number. He said it “could involve several additional patients.” He then did not answer follow up questions as to who and when someone would determine how many more patients were impacted.

The Examiner requested further information on Williams’ testimony and the department’s subsequent response Friday morning. In an email, Andrew said, “I realize we need to clarify.” He said he would “send you that clarification later today.”

Information provided Friday shortly before 5 p.m. by Andrew shows that 130 patients of Laguna Honda Hospital were, in fact, affected by the patient abuse scandal and Williams’ testimony was accurate.

“A total of approximately 30 patients have been victims of abuse, which includes chemical restraint, sexual or sexually-related abuse, physical or verbal abuse,” Andrew said in an emailed statement Friday.

He said in the email that “approximately 25 additional patients have been photographed or been visible in the background of photographs without consent (For example, they were in the background of shots, or a video scanned a room or common area containing many people. This is a privacy violation.)”

Additionally, he said in the email that “approximately 75 other patients had their names (not photographic images) disclosed in recordings. (This is a privacy violation.)”

The Examiner previously reported in September the sordid details of the abuse of the initial reported 23 patients found in documents related to the investigation of the 780-bed skilled-nursing facility, which is overseen by the Department of Public Health. That included one patient who was administered Narcan to reverse an apparent drug overdose due to unprescribed opioids. In another case, there is a video-recording of a patient “lying on his side in bed and suddenly being kicked on the buttocks by a staff member.”

The City has paid a $780,000 fine as a result of the abuse, but expects to pay additional penalties. The City is also facing legal claims.

Laguna Honda’s longtime CEO Mivic Hirose was replaced in June by acting CEO Margaret Rykowski.

Rykowski said at the Wednesday hearing that “on Oct. 15 Laguna Honda was found to be in regulatory compliance with the state” after addressing the deficiencies identified through the California Department of Public Health’s investigation into the patient abuse.

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