SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Department of Health investigation has uncovered video and text message evidence that 23 patients — many suffering from dementia — were allegedly abused by six employees at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, officials revealed Friday.
The victims lived in two wards at the public hospital. The alleged physical and verbal abuse occurred between 2016 and January 2019.
The stunning allegations included: verbal and physical abuse of residents; sexualized conversations with residents; neglect; privacy violations; failure to report violations; medication errors; and a pattern of inappropriate administration of non-prescribed substances to some residents in an attempt to sedate them.
“What has recently come to light is so profoundly hurtful, offensive, and heartbreaking for so many of us who care deeply about this hospital,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a prepared statement. “I appreciate that the Department of Public Health, under the leadership of Dr. Grant Colfax, took swift action to investigate these allegations and hold staff responsible for their horrific actions, including the leadership charged with overseeing the Hospital.”
Breed said the claims struck close to home.
“Laguna Honda Hospital is incredibly important to fulfilling San Francisco’s commitment to providing comprehensive and compassionate care for our residents,” she said. “My own grandmother who raised me received amazing care for years at Laguna Honda before she passed away in 2016, and I remember the respect and dedication of the workers there in what was a challenging time for her and our entire family.”
Health officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that the alleged abusers had taken photos and videos of themselves engaging in the abuse. Those photos and videos, officials said, were exchanged those photos and videos over text messages.
“This behavior does not belong in our City or anywhere and can never be allowed to happen again,” Breed said. “San Francisco is better than this, and significant changes will be made at Laguna Honda Hospital so it can fulfill its mission of caring for those most in need.”
In addition to the allegations of abuse, it was also discovered that Laguna Honda pharmacists were only doing weekly checks instead of daily checks on the medication rooms where scheduled narcotics were stored.
“The systems that were in place at that time didn’t catch what happened in terms of some of the inappropriate medication use. As Dr. Colfax said, we’ve taken steps to remedy that right away,” said Roland Pickens, director of the San Francisco Health Network.
The health department said all six of the employees have been fired and that Laguna Honda’s chief executive, Mivic Hirose, has resigned.