LAGUNA HONDA: San Francisco Submits Plan To Ease Overcrowding At ‘Beleaguered’ Nursing Home
In response to the Health Care Financing Administration's recent threat "to pull Laguna Honda's federal [funding] lifeline," the city Department of Public Health has submitted a proposal to "decrease the patient population by at least 9% -- more than 100 patients -- within 90 days." The plan entails freezing admissions for all city residents except those referred by San Francisco General Hospital and re-evaluating "the needs of all 1,166 current residents by August 8 to determine which are capable of being returned to the community," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Concerning the threatened September 9 moratorium on federal funding, Dr. Mitchell Katz, public health department director, said "We've said we will not discharge anyone inappropriately, no matter what they do." He predicted that attrition through reduced admissions alone will free up "some of the space federal authorities insist be used to provide communal dining space and recreational activities for patients remaining in each ward." Federal regulators are concerned with the overall quality of life at Laguna Honda, but their "primary target" for reforms is the facility's antiquated, 30-bed open ward system, the Chronicle reports. Janice Caldwell, associate regional administrator for HCFA, said the facility's aged patients "need to be treated in a humane way, rather than being given a tray to eat at their bed. It's called quality of life, and its required by the regulations." Eventually, HCFA wants San Francisco to replace the aging facility. But Mayor Willie Brown says a new Laguna Honda would cost nearly $1 billion, double the amount of some earlier estimates (Russell, 6/24). Click here for previous California Healthline coverage of concerns about conditions at Laguna Honda Hospital.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.