SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL: Hospital Cuts 21 Psychiatric Beds
In another attempt to cut costs, San Francisco General Hospital is moving staff out of its psychiatric ward and closing 21 beds this month, sparking heated reactions from some members of the city's Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Doctors, nurses, and staffers, who learned of the transfers in a Wednesday memo from hospital administrators, claim that the decision will "damage the quality of care" for the mentally ill. The moves are part of a plan by San Francisco Health Department Director Dr. Mitchell Katz to bring the agency under budget in the 2000-2001 fiscal year (Wilson, 5/5). "The longer we put it off, the more in the hole we get. We're already out of budget now," Anthony Wagner, overseer of the department's Community Health Network, said (Torassa, San Francisco Examiner, 5/4). Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano disagreed, blasting Katz's unilateral decision. He asked, "Who the hell is Mitch Katz ... to do this without board approval?" Katz is "bypassing the democratic process," Dr. Robert Okin, the hospital's chief of psychiatry, added. By eliminating the psychiatric beds and moving patients to private hospitals once they no longer need acute care, Katz expects to save $2.6 million (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/5).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.