Brown Downplays S.F. General Providers’ Concerns
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) yesterday disagreed with physicians and nurses at San Francisco General Hospital who fear a "major meltdown" this winter, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "I think they are sincere, but there is a reality check that lessens the prospect of which they speak," Brown said (Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15). In a letter to the Chronicle, 10 physicians and nurses at the hospital's intensive care unit wrote, "We are concerned that a limit has been reached beyond which patient care could well be compromised. ... We face the winter months, a typically busy ICU time, without the necessary resources to handle the expected increase in patients" (California Healthline, 11/14). Brown noted that "large sums" of money have been "pumped" into the city's Department of Public Health, which runs San Francisco General. "General fund support" for the department has increased from $114 million in 1995-1996 to $261.9 in the 2000-2001 fiscal year, while the department's overall budget is up $20 million from last year and now stands at $860 million. Brown attributed the declining situation at hospitals to "falling" reimbursement rates from the state and federal government. He said, "I'd love to be able to make all medical devices available to everyone, but there are some financial limitations." Addressing San Francisco General doctors' fear of an overburdened ICU, Brown said, "We have annually taken care of every sick person. We haven't left anyone out" (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15).