LAGUNA HONDA: City Officials Reach Agreement With Regulators
"[F]ace-to-face talks and a timely letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein" (D) saved federal funding for San Francisco's troubled Laguna Honda long-term care facility, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Under an agreement reached Friday between the hospital and the state Department of Health Facilities, city officials charged with operating Laguna Honda "conceded little in the short-run -- some furnishings will be shuffled to reduce ward size to 28 beds from 30." However, the city agreed to find "some way to replace the aging structure, whose ward system has violated federal rules since 1980." In exchange, regulators lifted "their threat to cut off in September the $250,000 a day in federal and state Medicaid funds on which Laguna Honda depends for the care of its 1,200 elderly and impoverished residents." According to the Chronicle, city health officials are now attempting "to determine just how much the agreement will cost."
Lee Ann Monfredini, president of the San Francisco Health Commission, "acknowledged that a sharply worded letter" from Feinstein (San Francisco's former mayor) to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala "pushed the deal forward" (see CHL 6/30). In that letter, Feinstein said it would be "unconscionable" to force the city to downsize or close Laguna Honda (Russell, 7/13). The San Francisco Examiner notes that a "bond issue that would authorize money to construct a state-of-the-art Laguna Honda ... is destined for a city ballot in 1999." If the ballot is not approved, "the sword dangling over Laguna Honda may drop" (Dougan, 7/13). Click Laguna Honda to read past California Healthline coverage of this issue.