MOUNT ZION: Supervisors Vow to Scrape up Funds for Hospital
San Francisco supervisors yesterday pledged to resist efforts to close Mount Zion Hospital's inpatient services and emergency room, even though the hospital, as part of the UCSF Stanford system, is floundering in the red, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Supervisors heard yesterday from UCSF Stanford CEO Peter Van Etten, who said that while he would join members of the Public Health and Environment Committee to find funds to save the hospital, "until financial relief arrives, he has no alternative but to proceed with" plans to trim the hospital's services. Van Etten said the hospital will remain a "cancer treatment center, an out-patient surgical center and a home to clinics for adults and children." Van Etten told the supervisors that since the UCSF-Stanford merger in 1997, losses have increased to $60 million a year, $56 million of which are linked to Mount Zion. Three remedies are under consideration, he said: moving Mount Zion's inpatient and emergency services to the UCSF hospitals on Parnassus Heights, permitting 72-hour "short stay" hospitalizations, and diverting some of UCSF's services to Mount Zion on a permanent basis. "We'd be most comfortable with [the third option], if we felt it were feasible," he said.
Your Loss, Our ... Loss
Supervisor Amos Brown was adamant that the hospital should continue at full capacity, warning that as "this decision becomes imminent, there will be a public uprising. Let's start a crusade," he said. Although the supervisors could not actually prevent UCSF Stanford from making the cuts, Department of Public Health officials "warned that the closure could cost the city money by sending more uninsured patients" in need of emergency treatment to county-run San Francisco General Hospital. One "unlikely potential co-crusader," University of California Regent and Republican activist Ward Connerly, showed up at the hearing. While publicly he said he "would not take a stand on the issue," privately, the Chronicle reports, "Connerly indicated to the supervisors that he opposes the cuts at Mount Zion and is looking for allies to fight such a move" (Epstein, 6/30). Today's Chronicle reports that Mayor Willie Brown has joined the fight as well. He said, "I think they should keep it open. I'll lobby like hell, for openers, and see if we can get the feds or the state to step in and make it a community-based hospital." But, he added, "It will take a major community-based effort to do it" (Epstein, 7/1).