MOUNT ZION: Hospital Closes after 113 Years of Service
Mount Zion Hospital, a place of "medical marvels" for 113 years, recently announced it is closing due to financial troubles caused by deep Medicare cuts "inflicted by a knife-wielding Congress." A "victim of health care in the modern age," some contend that the hospital suffered during the " titanic struggle" between the medical giants -- the University of California and Stanford medical centers. But officials disagree, saying the closure was inevitable due to monetary losses -- Mount Zion lost $40-$60 million in the last year it was open. UC San Francisco Chancellor Michael Bishop said, "[It] has had a great tradition ... But we simply can't afford to keep it open. The regents wouldn't tolerate us operating a hospital that lost so much money." A "key" part of San Francisco's medical history, Mount Zion was the city's first hospital to give staff privileges to Jewish doctors, treated most of the city's sickest and poorest patients, including many Russian immigrants, and was responsible for as much as 10% of all ER calls in the city. Now, many doctors face the prospect of working only part-time at other hospitals. ER Director Dr. Laurel Hodgson said, "This staff showed an incredible amount of loyalty. We hung together and fought this fight thinking that we were going to be part of the growth of Mount Zion. We did everything we could to save it, but we lost and now there's no going back. It's sad. Really sad." UC Medical Center's "world- renowned cancer center" is scheduled to move into the area. Commenting on the planned expansion of the hospital, Bishop said that "Mount Zion will be a 'glorious place' in the future" and that within two years, the facility where the hospital now rests will be a "vibrant place again" (Garcia, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4).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.