Tuesday’s San Francisco Health Commission meeting did not go as planned. In fact, it barely even started as more than 80 furious protesters shut the meeting down in reaction to a slew of scheduled evictions at an Adult Residential Facility (ARF).
Mayor Breed’s proposed switcheroo of residential health patient beds into temporary homeless shelter beds at Zuckerberg General Hospital comes at a cost; at least 18 patients in the residential health program were served with eviction papers in late August. While the Department of Public Health (DPH) was quick to point out that all of the patients would be “redistributed” and would not be left homeless, a few local media outlets were quick to uncover the severity of the situation. The Chronicle discovered shortly after that “dozens of long-term beds sit empty at San Francisco General Hospital’s Adult Residential Facility every day,” and Mission Local put that number at 45 empty beds while reporting the facility had added “no new patients for months.”
Despite the exposure of these empty-bed blunders, the evictions are still on — the DPH cites a lack of staffing for the ARF, and also "staff negligence and errors," per the Chronicle. That situation came to a boil at Tuesday’s Health Commission meeting, and protesters shouted the meeting down to a close.
San Francisco health department employees are storming a health commission meeting demanding that City leaders reverse a plan to repurpose 41 permanent mental health beds into temporary shelter beds. Check @sfexaminer for previous coverage on the issue. pic.twitter.com/7cit40ITio— Laura Waxmann (@laura_waxee) September 17, 2019
As the San Francisco Examiner informs us, the Board of Supervisors introduced a measure Tuesday to rescind the evictions (they’ll vote on that next week). But the DPH still intends to carry through on these relocations, prompting the demonstrators to storm their weekly meeting in defense of the Adult Residential Facility (ARF) with chants of “Save the ARF!”
Healthcare workers and patients together rallying to #savetheARF RIGHT NOW at the Health Commission. Mayor Breed needs to stop cutting long-term beds just so she can say she added shelter beds. We will keep doing this until our patients get the care they need. @seiu1021 @sflabor pic.twitter.com/2aGGFf826w— Nato Green (@natogreen) September 17, 2019
“Where the f*** are we supposed to go?” KPIX quoted ARF resident Marcus Huiseman as saying. “On the streets? I don’t think so.”
We’re out here with hella folks shutting down the Health Commission Meeting to #SavetheARF - an adult residential facility that provides mental health beds to some of our most vulnerable San Franciscans. @SF_DPH is trying to close it! pic.twitter.com/4DthJKE9i1— Coalition on Homelessness (@TheCoalitionSF) September 17, 2019
The DPH is sticking with their story that this will not substantively affect anyone’s care. “There are 32 people at the ARF now, none of whom are going to lose their care,” DPH spokesperson Rachael Kagan told KPIX. “We are making the management decision to repurpose the vacant beds. So that we can expand Hummingbird [homeless Navigation Center] and continue to work on the problems at the ARF.” The Hummingbird Navigation Center opened at SF General in 2017 specifically to house mentally ill patients.
Maybe so, but this does not address the appropriate outrage over dozens of beds being left empty every night a city notorious for its homeless problem. Health Commission President James Loyce shut the meeting down, telling KPIX, “I can’t do business like this. I just cannot.”
Image: SEIU 1021