San Francisco Plan Sparks Debate on Nursing Home Care
The Wall Street Journal on Friday published letters to the editor addressing an article published last month that examined how San Francisco plans to spend about $600 million to replace the Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, an effort that "bucks a tenuous trend across the country" to provide care to seniors in their homes or in assisted living facilities (California Healthline, 5/7). Summaries appear below.
- Louise Renne/Mitchell Katz: The Journal article "sets up a false dichotomy between nursing home care and community care," Renne, former San Francisco city attorney, and Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, write in a Journal letter to the editor. Renne and Katz continue, "It is always preferable for frail elderly or ill patients to get the care they need at home," but "people whose needs cannot be met at home because they do not have the family or financial support to make home care feasible deserve to be cared for in a well-staffed, modern medical facility with amenities such as gardens, swimming pools, sunlit solariums and balconies with views" (Renne/Katz, Wall Street Journal, 6/1).
- Tony Sauer: "It is amazing that San Francisco and the Service Employees International Union are pushing for what is seemingly a pretty prison for seniors and people with disabilities," Sauer, executive director of Nevada-Sierra Regional In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. Sauer writes that he is "appalled that $620 million taxpayer dollars are being diverted away from community living options and into Laguna Honda," adding that he hopes the Journal article "captures the attention of policymakers and helps change the direction of this ill-conceived folly" (Sauer, Wall Street Journal, 6/1).
- Audrey Weiner: "There is no question that there is need for an intelligent debate on how to plan to move from nursing home care to more community-based options," Weiner, president and CEO of New York's Jewish Home and Hospital Lifecare System, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. However, she adds that nursing homes "will always be a necessary part of that continuum of care for our frailest citizens" and are a "much valued community resource offering medical professionals, staff training, safety and security." Weiner continues, "The future of long-term care requires much analysis, and many issues need critical review and drastic change, including funding for various types of community-based care" (Weiner, Wall Street Journal, 6/1).
"A quality nursing home is one that first and foremost emphasizes the safety and health of its residents, but comfort and quality of life cannot and must not be overlooked," Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, writes in a New York Times letter to the editor.
Yarwood notes that more than 5,000 nursing homes have committed to participating in the Advancing Excellence in America's Nursing Homes campaign, "whose objective is to improve the quality of life for residents and staff, as well as to enhance the care quality that is provided, benchmarking their improvements against targeted goals." Yarwood concludes, "It's a trend we can be proud of, and one that's good for all long-term care consumers" (Yarwood, New York Times, 5/31).