Three days after the body of a missing patient was found in a stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital, Mayor Ed Lee expressed his condolences and pledged that he would do all he can — specifically by launching an independent review of the hospital’s security — to find out what happened to Lynne Spalding.
“This should not have happened and we all want to make sure this never happens again,” Lee said during a news conference Thursday.
Lee voiced support for the hospital’s staff and promised to keep the Spalding family in the loop as the investigation goes forward.
He wouldn’t speculate on who or what is to blame.
“I’m not into pointing fingers at this time …,” Lee said, “but I will say this: The City is responsible for what happened here and I want everybody to cooperate to find out all the details so that we can improve on it and make sure it doesn’t happen.”
The mayor said the independent review of all security at the hospital will include patient and employee security, the control of building and campus security, and the response to all staff and patient safety events. Additionally, the review will include looking at security policy as well as training and security staffing, which is overseen by the Sheriff’s Department.
Lee made a point to commend the hospital staff, pointing out that incidents like this are unprecedented at the hospital.
“We’re not of the opinion that this happens very often, especially in a locked stairwell,” Lee said of the case.
Spalding, 57, was admitted to the hospital Sept. 19 when she came there with her boyfriend and 23-year-old daughter. She had been losing weight and didn’t appear to be herself, said family spokesman David Perry, who added that she may have been suffering from some kind of infection.
On Sept. 21, Spalding, whose condition was improving, disappeared from her hospital bed 15 minutes after a nurse attended to her. After she disappeared from her fifth-floor bed, a search of the unit, hospital and campus was undertaken.
Her body was found Tuesday by a hospital engineer doing a regularly scheduled inspection of an emergency exit stairwell that is on the outside of the building.
Foul play has been ruled out of the case, according to Perry. The cause, manner and time of death remain under investigation by the Medical Examiner’s Office.