San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital imperiled by loss of federal funds

Federal officials have cut off funding to San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital, leaving the facility in limbo for at least a month. The hospital now has 30 days to reapply for Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The proverbial clock is ticking, for now there won't be any immediate changes for patients in the facility, but the hospital cannot admit any new patients until federal funding is restored.

For now the more than 700 patients at Laguna Honda will not see any impact after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut off funding to the hospital Thursday. The hospital's CEO is reassuring patients and their families they will continue to receive the highest level of care. 

"To our Laguna Honda community, I know the termination may cause anxiety, but I want you to know we will do everything we can to make this right," said Michael Phillips.

Troubles for Laguna Honda follow the revelation of a pair of overdoses at the hospital in July 2021, neither of which were fatal.

Federal investigators began monitoring the facility, and gave the hospital a deadline to implement changes to bring the hospital into compliance. The latest inspection turned up deficiencies, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid funding was suspended. 

The hospital's CEO said Laguna Honda will continue receiving funds for 30 days to care for patients. "Most importantly we will immediately begin the process of reapplying for participation in the CMS program. In fact, staff are already preparing for the rectification process," said Phillips.

The loss of funding has not impacted the hospital's state licensing.

Laguna Honda relies on a combination of federal aid and funds from the city and county. San Francisco's Health Director, Dr. Grant Colfax said he is confident the hospital will survive this latest challenge. "Laguna Honda is not going anywhere. We will continue to be an excellent place to receive excellent care," said Dr. Colfax.

While the hospital will continue to receive funds to care for patients currently at the facility, Laguna Honda cannot admit any new patients. The Department of Public Health sent a note to KTVU late Thursday afternoon saying during this time that they've paused admissions and that physicians should make referrals for their patients requiring skilled nursing care to the many other local skilled nursing facilities in the area.

KTVU did talk with one visitor to the hospital. He expressed some concerns about the loss of funding, but also said the patient he was visiting has received top-notch medical attention.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her office will also work with Mayor London Breed and the Biden administration to ensure that the hospital addresses its problems and remains open.