SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Many leaders and family members of patients at Laguna Honda Hospital are calling for the federal government to stop patient transfers.
“If this trend continues, up to 60 people are going to die so it’s a terrifying future that we’re looking at right now,” said Joseph Urban, a concerned family member of a patient at Laguna Honda Hospital. Joseph’s mother-in-law has lived there for three-and-a-half years but she might have to be transferred.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) de-certified the facility in April for substandard care. The agency is set to stop paying for the care of the hospital’s patients in September.
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“Not only is it just brutal for the individuals going through the process but four different people now have died from the process,” said Urban. San Francisco’s Department of Public Health is working to get the nursing home rectified by a September 13 deadline.
In the meantime, CMS is requiring the facility to transfer or discharge all of its patients before that date. Executive Director of the nonprofit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform Patricia McGinnis said that does not make sense.
“So, they go in to do a re-certification, if there’s no residents there what are they going to recertify?” said McGinnis. McGinnis added she isn’t surprised to see people dying shortly after the transfer process.
“Transfer trauma is a very real phenomena, it happens all the time. The increase in morbidity and mortality rates are very, very high,” said McGinnis.
State Senator Scott Wiener said the transfer plans are rushed and doing more harm than good. “We are asking the federal government to at least be more flexible on the transfers, so the most vulnerable people don’t have to be. We need the federal government to listen,” said Wiener.
The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform is holding a town hall next week. Urban started a petition to educate more people on what is happening and said he understands that there were safety violations that need to be fixed, but doing it this way could have dire consequences for people like his mother-in-law.
“She is very frail at the moment. She’s there really for the last months of her life and to have to go through this type of a situation it’s just a brutal way to end an extraordinary life,” said Urban.
If the transfers continue, some people will be moved to out-of-state facilities. As of July 24, the facility still has 608 patients.