SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL: Hospital Employees Protest Cuts
Some 150 employee demonstrators outside San Francisco General Hospital Tuesday protested budget cuts they say are "endangering patient care" at the facility, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The Department of Public Health has slashed the public hospital's funding "to partially offset" its projected deficit of $25.4 million. A new policy requiring up-front co-payments on medications for low-income patients beginning last spring forced some patients to go without medications, and the closing of the hospital's second pharmacy has created "day-long" lines at the remaining pharmacy, protestors argued. "These cuts have caused dramatic hardship for my patients, most of whom are critically ill," said Dr. Meg Newman, who treats many of the hospital's HIV/AIDS patients. In addition to the pharmacy changes, 20 of the 25 medical records staff lost their jobs in June. "If no one is there to pull patients' charts, than services will grind to a halt," said medical records clerk Johannes Dsouza, who noted that the medical records department handles 1,500 patient records each day. In defense of the cuts, Anthony Wagner, executive administrator of the Community Health Network, which runs the hospital on behalf of the Department of Public Health, said, "I would never knowingly allow patient care to be endangered." Wagner added, "In looking at health systems all over the country, all things considered, we could be doing a heck of a lot worse." Protestors plan to continue their fight through more protests and letter-writing campaigns (Wadhwani, 7/15).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.