SAN FRANCISCO: Brown Says No to Hospital Cuts
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) Friday said no services would be cut at San Francisco General Hospital in an attempt to shore up its $26 million deficit (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/13). "The mayor has directed me to make no further plans on service reductions," said Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the city's Department of Public Health. Officials had planned to save at least $10 million through closing the children's ward, labor and delivery services, the newborn nursery, a psychiatric unit and a community-based clinic. Given the mayor's directive, however, the health department "probably will be allowed to tap $25 million of the city's $145 million budget surplus and erase the rest of the red ink with administrative belt-tightening," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Katz said Brown asked him to make savings by "deferring equipment purchases" and delaying hiring for "nonessential" positions. Although doctors and nurses were relieved by the mayor's directive, many are still concerned about the ongoing budget problems at the hospital. Dr. Kevin Grumbach, chief of family medicine, said, "If you work at a public hospital, you understand that it is not the Ritz-Carlton. But you still demand that patients are treated with a basic level of decency. This budget crisis puts that in peril." The Chronicle reports that already cost cutting "is making life more difficult for the low-income patients" who come to SF General, as the closure of two hospital pharmacies have caused "serious overcrowding and four-hour waits" (Russell/Abate, 3/13).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.