Feb 2, 2023 - News

For Laguna Honda, a pivotal extension until May

aerial view of laguna honda

An aerial view of Laguna Honda in San Francisco. Photo: Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center got a crucial federal extension last night, letting it hold off on forced patient transfers at least until May 19.

  • The moratorium on patient transfers had been set to expire today.

Why it matters: Twelve former Laguna Honda patients died within weeks or months following their mandated transfers from the nursing facility last year.

  • The deaths were a result of the stress that comes when patients with complex health problems change their living environments, Roland Pickens, the facility’s interim chief executive officer, said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

State of play: Laguna Honda cares for a variety of patients, including those recovering from strokes or traumatic brain injuries, as well as those with dementia, mental health disorders or other comparable conditions.

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revoked Laguna Hospital's certification last April after determining the hospital had not complied with multiple federal safety requirements, including infection prevention and control and consistent medication dosing.
  • Federal regulators in April required the facility to discharge or transfer its nearly 700 patients by Sept. 13, 2022, a deadline that was later extended.
  • CMS paused the transfer of residents in August after at least four patients died after being moved to other facilities.
  • In November, city officials and federal regulators reached an agreement to extend the moratorium through today, and CMS agreed to continue paying for patient care at the hospital through Nov. 13.

The big picture: Laguna Honda is working to regain its certification from the CMS — something it needs in order to remain open and continue to receive the funding required to care for Medicare or Medicaid patients.

  • Laguna Honda said it has "worked tirelessly" in recent months to make the changes and reforms required for recertification, having "made great progress," a spokesperson wrote in a statement to Axios.
  • With the transfer moratorium extended, Laguna Honda can focus on getting recertified.

What they're saying: "This is the humane and compassionate path forward," Laguna Honda said in a statement about the extension.

  • Many patients and their families want to remain at the hospital, according to Laguna Honda, "and this continued reprieve of involuntary transfers provides stability, continuity of care and short-term relief," the hospital said.

What to watch: Whether Laguna Honda will regain its certification.

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