Sunday, November 04, 2007

More on St. Luke's hospital closure

The sad looking woman in the photo above was staffing a table at 24th Street and Mission on last Friday, offering health information from California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC)/Sutter Health. Her health outreach materials were all in Spanish. A questionnaire sought opinions on what services were most important to passersby -- and offered, among other options, information about St. Lukes Hospital.

But only two weeks ago CPMC announced that it was shutting down the money losing St. Luke's facility in the Mission. Opponents of the closure quickly discovered unearthed evidence that the impact of CPMC's plan would be to dump most of their Black, Brown and charity care patients. CPMC wants to build yet another North of Market Street hospital on Cathedral Hill, while leaving the South of Market area entirely to the care of the over-crowded, under-funded county hospital.

Was CPMC perhaps stung by disclosure of the racial and class impact of its plans? This young woman didn't know -- she had not been told that St. Lukes Hospital, which she was for all practical purposes promoting, was about to be closed. Her job was to invite Mission residents to a health fair -- a health fair to take place miles across town in the well-off Marina district.

She was very nice -- and I thought she was being misused.

On Sunday, a St. Luke's emergency room doctor, Marc A. Snyder, wrote the Chronicle, about CPMC's planned closure:

As an emergency physician who has practiced at St. Luke's Hospital for 25 years, I have concerns about some of the comments made about the plans for ambulatory care at St. Luke's. ...

The notion that 85 percent of our emergency department's patients could be handled by an urgent care center is ludicrous. Our department does have an urgent care area, staffed by a physician assistant 12 hours a day, but 80 percent of our patients are triaged to the acute side.

We have only seven rooms, but three have two patients each, separated by a curtain. Despite these 10 beds, we still frequently have two or three additional sick patients on gurneys in the hallway, a dangerous situation of overcrowding linked most commonly to ambulance diversion from San Francisco General Hospital (18 percent of the time). ...

The plan to close St. Luke's in 2009 will leave San Francisco with one overcrowded hospital South of Market. I don't think that this is a smart plan for the future of acute health care in the City.

St. Luke's is receiving the overflow from the country hospital emergency room. Where would those people go if St. Luke's is closed?

The San Francisco Health Commission will be holding a hearing about CPMC's plan to close St. Luke's on November 13, 3 PM, 101 Grove St., Room 300. The Saving St. Luke's Blog will have updates.


Sarah Lawton said...

Jan, for some reason your link to the Save St. Luke's blog didn't work for me. Is this the one you meant?:

janinsanfran said...

Link fixed. Thanks, Sarah.