A Department of Public Health investigation has found that 23 patients at San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center were subjected to verbal and physical abuse by a group of employees over a three-year period.
The investigation, which began in February, found cellphone and video evidence of the abuse at the live-in hospital, the victims of which were mostly dementia patients ranging in age from 30 to 100. As the Chronicle reports, the six employees involved allegedly took multiple photos and videos of themselves engaging in the abuse, which included having "sexualized conversations" with the patients.
In addition, patients were sedated with both prescription and non-prescription medication. The abuse occurred between 2016 and January 2019.
The discovery of the abuse came out of an investigation of an unrelated dispute between two employees, which unearthed the first of what turned out to be many text-message exchanges. The Department of Public Health says that none of the six employees are still employed at the hospital, and apparently as a result of the scandal, hospital’s chief executive, Mivic Hirose, has resigned. Further, the hospital’s chief of quality management has been placed on administrative leave.
The SFPD’s Special Victims Unit reportedly has been conducting its own investigation into the abuse, which has been ongoing since the department was contacted by the City Attorney’s Office in February.
Laguna Honda is home to some 780 patients receiving long-term care, many of them elderly and low-income.
In a statement, Mayor London Breed talked about her own grandmother having spent her final years at Laguna Honda, prior to her death in 2016. She called the report on the abuse "profoundly hurtful, offensive, and heartbreaking for so many of us who care deeply about this hospital."
"San Francisco is better than this," Breed said, "and significant changes will be made at Laguna Honda Hospital so it can fulfill its mission of caring for those most in need."
Breed gave a press conference Friday afternoon alongside DPH Director Dr. Grant Colfax to address the scandal. Colfax said he was concerned about a "culture of silence" at Laguna Honda that allowed the abuse to go on for as long as it did.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed says six caregivers at the city’s Laguna Honda Hospital have been fired for abusing 23 patients from 2016 to Jan of this year. pic.twitter.com/YTo9HZHPP7— Eric Thomas (@ericthomaskgo) June 28, 2019
Photo: Daderot/Wikimedia Commons