Thursday, November 18, 2004



Concerned physicians at Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco’s innovative 50-year-old skilled nursing facility, are sounding a desperate 11th hour call to voters to protect their elders from being mixed in with the “mentally ill, criminals and predators.”

Teresa Palmer, M.D. in her San Francisco Sentinel article, “Change in Mission at Laguna Honda: Whose idea is it?” reported that in 1998 the U.S. Department of Justice expressed concerns about living conditions at LHH.

In 1999, voters responded by approving Proposition A, a $300 million bond measure to rebuild LHH “configured to provide LHH residents with a home like setting.” Frail and elderly patients were to live in private and semi-private rooms, in unique “15-person households” with living and dining rooms to accommodate visiting relatives. As recently as June 3, 2004, this medical wonder was described in a San Francisco Chronicle guest opinion by Louise Renne entitled, “Laguna Honda Needs More Than What Bonds Provide.” Ms Renne is president of a new non-profit, The LHH Foundation, which raises money for furniture and “other amenities not covered by the LHH rebuild fund.”

These concepts, set forth in the Bond measure, were based on the "Options for Laguna Honda Hospital White Paper" issued in 1998 by Dr. Mitch Katz, San Francisco Public Health director.

In 1999, Dr. Edward Chow, current Health Commission president, wrote that passage of Prop A to save LHH from reduced funding and to build a “state-of-the-art skilled nursing facility is a moral imperative. If we fail, the effects will be devastating.”

Dr. Katz, however, has apparently decided to revoke promises to voters and “change the mission” of Laguna Honda Hospital, thus heralding the predicted “devastating effects” years after voters have turned their attention elsewhere.

In March 2004, without “required approval” or input from LHH staff, Dr. Katz reportedly changed the LHH admissions policy. According to the new website, stoplhhdownsize.com, “LHH's future is in dire jeopardy, and irreversible decisions about its future will be made by November 30.”

Dr. Palmer e-mailed me that not only are the voters not getting what they voted for, but “the rights of the mentally ill and younger disabled are being pitted against the rights of the frail elderly in order to justify what is essentially a 'steal' of LHH from the people of SF.”

LHH’s mission to admit the elderly and “any sick person not already at San Francisco General Hospital has been minimized.”

According to concerned sources, the Mental Health Rehab Facility/MHRF at San Francisco General Hospital “has been mismanaged in a fashion exactly parallel to what is going on at LHH--bond issue and all.”

Following changes at MHRF, the majority of admissions into LHH constitute “many vigorous and behaviorally disturbed” patients from San Francisco General Hospital rather than admissions from home of elderly San Franciscans who need a skilled nursing facility in which to live out their later years with supportive medical care.

Continued Dr. Palmer, "The problem of mentally ill, criminals and predators ending up in nursing homes and wreaking havoc is actually a national one. But Dr. Katz (with his boss Gavin Newsom standing by) is actually pushing this forward at LHH. The rights of predators and behaviorally disturbing people are being allowed to overrule the rights of the nursing home residents who are made miserable and unsafe."

And she concluded, “We are going into another bad budget cycle and things are worse. If there is not a grass roots outcry about [this emergency], nothing will stop it.”

Saturday, November 06, 2004



I was raised in the Red states of Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois, smack in the middle of the Christian Right culture. I lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Michigan for several decades. When I grew up, I left for the far West Blue state of California.

Pundits say Bush won the 2004 Presidential election by appealing to the "values" of the Christian Right in the middle Red states.

This is a bald misuse of the word "values."

The Christian Right is more about "Rules" than “Values.” For the Christian Right, these, specifically, are the "Rules" in the Bible's Ten Commandments. These Christian "Rules" lead to prohibitions on Gay Marriage, stem cell research, and a woman's right to choose.

A gentler word for "Rules" is "Guidelines."

People who need "Guidelines" are people lacking an internal moral compass. They need an Outer Authority to tell them what to do.

Bush and Karl Rove knowingly created a war where there was none without proof of need for war. They jumped on the idea of terror and then pumped up fear in the people without the internal moral compass.

Bush spoke to them as a God-appointed Moral Authority saying, "Be afraid. Be very afraid. But, be less afraid if you follow the Rules in the Good Book. Then you, too, will be Good, and God (and I, George Bush) will protect you from all harm."

Then, George Bush sent the sons and daughters of the Good people out in front of him to die in the war he created.

The Good people in the middle Red states may ultimately emerge from the cloud of denial and realize that their children were sent out ahead by the Great Authority Bush to die to protect them from harm. Then perhaps, their personal pain will help them develop their own moral compass, and not follow in blind faith The "Rules" of a Bible thumping leader guiding them headlong into the Valley of Death.

Carol Harvey in San Francisco

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