Aug 1, 2022 - News

Laguna Honda Hospital pauses patient transfers in light of deaths

Overhead photo of Laguna Honda Hospital
Laguna Honda Hospital. Photo: Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Federal regulators on Thursday paused the transfer of hundreds of residents from Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center following the deaths of at least four patients after being moved to other facilities.

Why it matters: Halting transfers means the 600+ patients β€” the majority of whom are low-income β€” may not be able to relocate to preferred, nearby facilities, which means they may not get the care they need.

Catch up quick: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revoked Laguna Hospital's certification in April after determining the facility did not comply with a number of federal safety requirements, including inspections and uncovering illicit substances on site.

  • Federal regulators mandated the facility discharge or transfer all patients by Sept. 13 β€”Β the earliest possible date of the hospital's closure if recertification efforts were unsuccessful. Laguna Honda needs CMS certification to care for patients on Medicare or Medicaid insurance plans.

What they're saying: The San Fransisco Board of Supervisors cited "transfer trauma" as a potential cause of death linked to the fatal tansfers.

"We can do the work to bring Laguna Honda back into compliance w/o traumatizing patients and families by forcing them out of the hospital," SF Mayor London Breed tweeted last week.

  • The California Department of Public Health said in a statement to Axios San Fransisco: "As a system we must do better."

What's next: Laguna Hospital is working to get recertified, but CMS has not indicated how the process is proceeding, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

  • The CDPH is helping Laguna Honda "improve its policies and procedures related to transfers," the department said in a statement to Axios San Fransisco.
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