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PRESS RELEASE: Ballot Initiative to Establish Laguna Honda Hospital Special Use District

From San Franciscans for Laguna Honda

David Bisho, Pres.,West of Twin Peaks Council
Virginia Leishman, former LHH Director of Nursing, LHH
Doug Comstock, Treasurer, SFFLH

May 2, 2005. San Franciscans for Laguna Honda, comprising concerned Laguna Honda Hospital staff members, patient advocates, taxpayer advocates, and neighborhood organizations from across the city, today led an intention to circulate an initiative that will permanently end the controversy over inappropriate admissions.

The initiative, intended for the November 2005 ballot, will establish a Laguna Honda Hospital Special Use District to protect and conserve a valuable and irreplaceable health care facility needed for San Francisco's frail, elderly, and physically disabled residents requiring long-term skilled nursing care. Specialty medical units such as hospice, AIDS, and respite care will continue to be permitted uses. Dangerous patients, and those whose medical diagnosis is primarily psychiatric or behavioral, will not be admitted or retained when this Special Use District is established, permanently ending the abuse of frail and elderly patients that has occurred in recent months, resulting from radical and reckless changes made at Laguna Honda by the Department of Public Health, at the direction of the mayor.

The importance of Laguna Honda 's traditional mission was reaffirmed by the voters with the passage of Proposition A in 1999, providing $299 million in new property tax bonds to rebuild the hospital. It is unfortunate that City Hall politics have influenced the rebuild, as well as hospital admissions and operations. Despite statements to the contrary, the admissions policy remains subject to change, depending upon budgetary or ideological priorities in force at any given time.

City Hall should welcome the efforts of the initiative, which will restore faith in city government by eliminating the political discretion that has led to the present dreadful situation, recently cited by state inspectors as unacceptable. This initiative will remove the politics, once and for all.

California State Assembly member Leland Yee voiced his early support for this ballot initiative. “This initiative speaks to the original intent of the taxpayers in approving the $299 million bond measure. By forever setting aside Laguna Honda Hospital for our frail, elderly, and physically disabled residents, we will have the assurance we need that our tax money will be spent for the purpose intended.”