Laguna Honda set to take over new space in first-of-its-kind move

When one of the largest hospitals in the nation moves virtually all its contents to a new building, there are a million things to keep track of — medical records, oxygen machines, pharmaceuticals. And even 6-inch-tall dogs with red sweaters.

Everything — down to the brown stuffed dog, which is of vital importance to a dementia patient who always feels more comfortable when she has it near her — is on a checklist somewhere, and it too will be moved next week, when Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center finally makes its long-anticipated transition to a new building.

On Nov. 18, after years of delays and massive cost overruns, the public nursing hospital received approval from the Office of Statewide Hospital Planning and Development to move into its new building. State health officials have been doing final inspections.

Hospital officials are wasting no time readying for the move. Long ago, they developed a moving plan: Take half the 750 patients in the hospital Tuesday and the other half Wednesday.

This may be the largest endeavor of its kind in American history, hospital administrators say. Other public hospitals have moved wings or expanded to new buildings, but, according to hospital spokesman Marc Slavin, no facility the size of Laguna Honda has moved entirely from one building to another.

Patients include people in hospice, those with HIV, and dementia patients who tend to wander.

In order to reduce any chance for complications, the move has been planned down to the very minute. Starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, patients will be methodically transported from their current beds in the old buildings — in some cases, dormitory-style beds built in the 1920s — to their single-bed rooms in the new buildings.

Every patient will be pushed in a wheelchair — even the 30 percent or so who are ambulatory without it. They will all be holding their own medical records and a bag of their most important items — the small stuffed dog, which comforts the dementia patient, would count among those items.

The hospital will ensure that there are familiar faces along the 15-minute walk from one building to the next, in order to comfort those who may become disoriented. Patients will be tracked from a central control room as they leave their rooms, along the path, and as they move into their new rooms, where they will be surrounded by nurses they are familiar with.

“A couple of our residents went over yesterday to see their rooms and take a tour of the hospital, and they were both very excited,” said nurse manager Jacky Spencer-Davies, head of the hospital’s Positive Care program for patients with HIV and AIDS. “They’ve seen it on paper of course — there’s a map in the hall they’ve seen — but they really loved seeing it in person.”

Nurse manager Chris Winkler, who has worked at Laguna Honda for 29 years, said she and her staff have discussed the move with their dementia patients, but only about half really understand what is going on. Winkler expects that they will be fine once the move is complete.

“Truthfully, this has been talked about for so many years, I’m just so happy for the residents to have it finally come to fruition,” she said.

Moving day

Patients will move to the new Laguna Honda Hospital early next week.

$584 million Cost of new facility

1,200 Beds initially anticipated

750 Beds constructed after cost overruns required downsizing

1866 Year original Laguna Honda opened

$10 million Cost of moving from old building to new one

Bay Area NewsLocalmoveSan Francisco

Just Posted

A large crack winds its way up a sidewalk along China Basin Street in Mission Bay on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s sinking sidewalks: Is climate change to blame?

‘In the last couple months, it’s been a noticeable change’

For years, Facebook employees have identified serious harms and proposed potential fixes. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have rejected the remedies, causing whisteblowers to multiple. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)
Facebook’s problems at the top: Social media giant is not listening to whistleblowers

Whistleblowers multiply, but Zuckerberg and Sandberg don’t heed their warnings

Maria Jimenez swabs her 7-year-old daughter Glendy Perez for a COVID-19 test at Canal Alliance in San Rafael on Sept. 25. (Penni Gladstone/CalMatters)
Rapid COVID-19 tests in short supply in California

‘The U.S. gets a D- when it comes to testing’

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a late-game comeback against the Packers, but San Francisco lost, 30-28, on a late field goal. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers beat the Niners in a heartbreaker: Don’t panic

San Francisco is no better and no worse than you thought they were.

A new ruling will thwart the growth of solar installation companies like Luminalt, which was founded in an Outer Sunset garage and is majority woman owned. (Philip Cheung, New York Times)
A threat to California’s solar future and diverse employment pathways

A new ruling creates barriers to entering the clean energy workforce

Most Read