• • •  September 2017 Issue • • •

Summer of Yum

Finn Town’s Fall Fare Twist

Finn Town Tavern will celebrate it’s first anniversary in December 2017

Photo: Anthony O'Donnell

 

While many Castro destinations are fancied for their 2-for-1 drink specials, there’s a plush pub along Market Street “where everybody knows your name.” Chef Steve Dustin and the team at Finn Town Tavern are warming up for fall with a menu update to titillate every tastebud.

 

“Hard squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, kabocha squash,” rattles off Chef Steve, the Michigan native who moved with his wife from New York to the Bay Area two years ago. He has several ideas for Finn Town’s fall menu update and shares only one. “Our burrata dishes have summer chillies, margarine and lemon zest. The new burrata will have sweet and sour butternut squash compote, pumpkin seeds and water crests.”

 

That burrata update was not only a sneak peak for the Courier, but also for Finn Town’s proprietor Rick Hamer, the gentlemen sitting across from one another in a Tavern window booth.

 

Chef Steve Dustin outside of Finn Town Tavern

on Market Street

Chef Steve joined Hamer and the Finn Town team in June after departing as culinary director of Big Night Group (Park Tavern, Leo’s Oyster Bar, Marlowe). He immediately set out to update some signature selections, bringing a twist to the tavern fare.

 

“Everything has been elevated,” says Hamer of Chef Steve’s new menu. “[The update] gives an extra amount of flavor, refinement and variety. He gets the tavern concept and the neighborhood.”

 

After firing grills in North Beach and Financial District, Chef Steve says it feels like he’s “back in a neighborhood again. You know everyone and the faces come in on a regular basis. It’s a neighborhood restaurant.”

 

Familiarity was Hamer’s goal when he opened Finn Town Tavern on December 2, 2016. “I wanted it to be colorful and inviting; something like Cheers,” Hamer says referencing the 1980s NBC sitcom. “It’s Barbary Coast meets Mad Men.”

 

Long before “The Castro,” Finn Town was a San Francisco neighborhood of the 1840s, nicknamed Little Scandinavia or Finn Town due to its large Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish population. Now, a piece of that history lives on inside this modern eatery.

 

Furnished with plush, warmly hued bar stools, the upscale pub offers several seating areas. High-top tables in the bar area are separated by navy-blue velvet curtains giving way to a dimly lit dining hall where a family-style table divides the room. A button-tufted, mustard-yellow wall mirrors two intimate booths across the room. The restaurant is also sound-proofed for conversation.

 

Establishing itself as the place to be on Sunday mornings, Finn Town Tavern also has an updated brunch menu.

 

“The heritage pork benedict is a dish I brought with me from New York,” says Dustin of his favorite brunch dish with a twist. “How can you do a benedict that’s not a benedict? Remove the english muffin. Add braised pork. Mold it, bread it, fry it. And all of a sudden this crispy piece of pork becomes the vehicle for poached eggs, sage hollandaise and braised greens.”

 

Hamer adds that the brunch menu has been “elevated 500 percent” since the update, noting the French toast brioche with spiced peaches as his personal favorite. But if crowds at Sunday Brunch are just too much, he recommends stopping in on a Monday or Tuesday around 5:30 p.m.

 

Finn Town Tavern is located at 2251 Market Street between Noe and Sanchez.

• • • Also in this Issue • • •

Violent Disturbance
in Our Own Backyard

It’s known locally and internationally as a place of peaceful gatherings throughout the year with a fabulous view of the city’s skyline to the Berkeley Hills. The corner of Church and 20th Street is one of the best places in the city to see the Fourth of July fireworks. Pets and people play in the newly renovated park that the city spent $20 million to renovate. The Helen Diller Playground, the tennis courts, the 16 acres of mostly green grass — what’s not to like? Dolores Park is a piece of gold in our back yard.

Statue of Miguel Hidalgo in Dolores Park.

Photos: Tony Taylor

 

The park has it problems, but nothing like the recent acts of violence that have caused concern. The community is united in bringing back the place that was loved by most everyone who visited it.

 

In recent months, the park has several violent crimes and people are scared. Due to related issues in Dolores, District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy convened a community meeting on August 21 at the Dolores Street Church.

Officer Sutherland patrols Dolores Park.

Sheehy welcomed a standing-room-only crowd of about 100 people, enthusiastic to discuss their concerns. He introduced the panel from the Mission Police Station: Chief of Police Bill Scott, Commander Dan Perea and Captain Bill Griffin. Others seated at the front table included Phil Ginsburg, the General Manager of Recreation and Parks Department, Justine Cephus, Assistant District Attorney in the District Attorney’s Office and Larry Stringer, Deputy Director for Operations from the Department of Public Works. Jeff Kositsky, Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supported Housing (DHSH) was unable to attend but sent a staff person in his place.

 

“We need meetings like this every month,” said a man in a yellow shirt. “And over the next six weeks we should form a committee to meet weekly to decide what needs to be done to make the Park safe again. We also need more Park Rangers!”

 

His comments received much applause.

 

San Francisco Police Capt. Bill Griffin, who leads the Mission Street Station, said that more uniformed officers are patrolling the park seven days a week and that reports of major criminal activity have fallen since they began increasing patrol.

 

Recent Crimes

 

In May, a 23-year-old man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after he was attacked by five assailants who beat him with bottles and a golf club. Last year, a 25-year-old man was stabbed in the torso by a mob of 10 men. The victim didn’t know the men and told police he assumed some were gang members.

 

According to the Chronicle, “No suspects have been arrested in the triple shooting [that occurred August 3].” Police Chief Bill Scott said the Park is “working on a belief” that the incident is connected to the shooting a month ago in which “no one was hit.”

 

A few days after the meeting a man on a bicycle was accosted by three men who wanted to steal his bike. When he pulled a knife on them, they left.

 

The head of the Hancock Street Association was noticeable angry. “You focus on the crimes, getting the dealers. We deal with the people doing crime one block away. Three people have been assaulted. One man woke up in the ICU. He was walking home from the Muni about 11 pm and hit on the head. He needed a year of rehab.”

 

The manager of a building at 20th and Church Street agreed. “There are persistent problems, people are stoned and drunk. They’re well-educated people who litter, destroy property, and puke on the sidewalk. People have told me their cars have been broken into four times.”

 

“Turn off the (ABC) cameras, I want anonymity,” one woman said. “I’ve sold brownies for seven years in the park and recently I was robbed. I know the man who did it is known to police, but he wasn’t arrested. It’s not right. Dolores Park is known nationwide and worldwide as a special place.”

 

Now two police officers patrol starting at 11 am daily. Even so, they don’t give tickets for breaking the 10pm curfew, trashing the park or dealing marijuana.

 

 

The Footbridge

 

For many, the footbridge represents the center of the drug trade. Sellers hone in on each side of the bridge and solicit people in daylight. It’s a magnet for more crime like the recent shooting of three people in broad daylight. There is no street crossing to the other side of Church Street. Why wait for a catastrophe here or at the next stair way on Church that has no cross walk to Hancock Street, a block from Church and 18th Street.

 

Trash Control

 

On a warm weekend, about 10,000 visitors pass through Dolores Park leaving behind seemingly mounds of trash. According to the San Francisco Chronicle on May 20, “Officials have lined the street with trash receptacles, added restrooms and spent $750,000 a year on cleanup and more than 450 bags of garbage are emptied each weekend.”

 

The Homeless

 

“There are so many homeless in the park,” said one resident. “They are there 24/7 and not arrested. Why isn’t the curfew enforced?”

 

Jeff Kositsky, DHSH Director said, “This is the first time I’ve heard of this group and I will send one of our hot-teams out to assess the situation immediately.”

 

DHSH has 36 outreach workers working seven days a week in groups of two trying to engage with people and get them into Navigation Centers, shelters, mental health centers and eventually supportive housing.

 

“We need more. It’s their constitutional right to sleep where they want. 78 percent of those offered a bed do not have a bad experience,” the DHSH Director added.

 

Recommendations

 

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy to propose legislation that would empower rangers to impose administrative penalties for littering raising the fine from $196 to as much as $1,000, and police enforcing the law.

 

The Department of Public Works can service more pick-ups on the weekends.

 

Police can work more closely with the DHSH and enforce the curfew at 10.

 

Concerned parties need to consider taking out the pedestrian bridge. What’s next?

 

Many left the meeting knowing their complaints had been heard by the very people who had the power to change them. But do they have the will to compromise among themselves and others to meet these challenges? People came to the meeting afraid to use the park. Now there is a feeling of “let’s wait and see.” Local governmental agencies make changes at a snail’s pace. We all want the park to be safe again and know this is the top priority to the Mission Police too. Will Dolores Park ever become something like the Beatles’ dreamed about, “Strawberry Fields Forever?”

 

Photos: Tony Taylor

 

• • • Also in this Issue • • •

Fighting Back

History at the GLBT Museum

GLBT History Museum hosts Fighting Back: Marching For Our Rights: 1987 and Beyond on September 26. Photo: Tony Taylor

 

Executive Director Terry Beswick began the GLBT History Museum’s Fighting Back series as a way of taking part in the current resistance movement, while adding a historical perspective to what’s happening today. For the past six months, on the fourth Tuesday of the month, the museum has brought together panels to discuss featured topics, from historians to present day activists. The seventh installation in the series, Fighting Back: Marching for Our Rights: 1987 and Beyond, will be up for discussion this month on September 26th. It’s a free forum (donations gladly accepted), held from 7 - 9PM in the museum at 4127 18th Street in the Castro.

 

Wendy: Marches and protests, the theme of your upcoming panel discussion and public forum, is especially timely.

 

Terry: We started this series early this year after the inauguration of the current president. In all of our work with the museum and the archives, we are endeavoring to make all of our exhibits and our archival work relevant to contemporary issues. History is such a common topic of conversation these days, since the election. People are constantly trying to contextualize everything that the Trump administration has been doing, or trying to undo, in terms of civil rights in particular: immigration rights, voting rights, LGBT rights. We’re seeing more and more active protest in the progressive community in San Francisco and elsewhere. I’m old enough to have been around during the early ACT UP days in San Francisco. From my own experience of it, we learn the hard way very frequently about things like nonviolence, petition gathering, translating that work to electoral politics, and so on. I think it’s important that we bridge the generations and spark conversations about what’s going on today, and putting that into a context where we can bring older activists and older historians together with people who are doing work today.

 

“I think we have a lot of opportunities to build bridges within the gay community because we are so diverse.”

— Terry Beswick

 

Wendy: Who will be speaking? Who are your panelists in September?

 

Terry: We’re still working on that. We do have Ken Jones as one of the panelists because he was a national organizer for the March on Washington in 1987. The 30th anniversary of that will be in October, so we’re framing the September forum around the March on Washington. Ken Jones is a well- known figure; he was actually one of the characters portrayed in the When We Rise series, based on Cleve Jones’ book. He’s an old friend of mine and he agreed to be on the panel. I’m going to reach out to a couple of others that were involved in that march, and then bring in people who are involved in organizing marches today.

 

Wendy: Given the recent surge in protests, it should be a good balance of the two.

 

Terry: Yeah. You know, with marches, in terms of an orbiting perspective, there’s always a lot of internal debate around tactics, timing, and location of the march, what’s an appropriate target. Of course, right now we’re looking at a lot of debate around the anti-white supremacist marches. It’s really interesting to deconstruct that and talk about timing and strategy, and also, what are the protesters demanding, what are protesters trying to get? With the March on Washington in 1987 there certainly was a lot of debate about the demands nationally and the sequence of events that took place in DC, and transporting everybody there. The way that I remember that organizing effort [is that] it was a part of our everyday conversation; everyone was talking about it in the San Francisco gay community, and around the country. Every conversation included somebody asking, “Are you going? How are you getting to the march?” It’s amazing to think about that now, and how different it is today. A lot of that conversation seems to happen on social media, whereas it used to be in community meetings and cafes.

 

Wendy: Will there be an opportunity for audience participation at September’s event?

 

Terry: We always try to implement that. It’s a two-hour event; we usually have panelists talk for about an hour, and we leave an hour for discussion between panelists and with the audience. The first one that we had was about direct action; we also did one on party politics, and there was one on lesbian avengers; that was an amazing forum. This has been a really popular series. I was nervous about it at first, as I wasn’t sure whether people were going to show up, but it’s been a full house; sometimes people are sitting on the floor, and standing through the whole thing.

 

Wendy: Do you know yet what some of the other topics might be, in the months ahead?

 

Terry: The October one will be about art, because October’s also the 30th anniversary of the first display of the [NAMES Project] AIDS [Memorial] Quilt, which was displayed at the ‘87 march. I thought we would do one in October about how art is part of the resistance, or can be. In November I believe we’re going to do it about race relations in the gay community, because it’s such a ripe subject for conversation right now. It’s not that race relations are boiling over in the LGBTQ community, but it is a constant source of discussion, and [it is] certainly in the national conversation right now. It’s Important for us to look at our role in that, and how are we handling race relations on a contemporary level, and how have we handled it historically, which has not always been our strong suit. Yet, I think we have a lot of opportunities to build bridges within the gay community because we are so diverse, but have so many things in common.

 

Wendy: As opposed to social media, where others involved in a discussion might appear somewhat one dimensional, this sort of forum most likely shows them to be more multidimensional, and therefore easier to relate to.

 

Terry: Definitely, and that’s kind of why the museum is important, and having events at the museum is important. You can watch a documentary on TV or look at historical artifacts on the internet, but it’s not the same as having a conversation with other people about it, and being able to touch and see things. We videotape the forums also, and we’re working on a way to upload them online, and make them available for people who can’t be there, but it’s a wonderful thing to be able to go and have an exchange with the panelists about these topics.

 

Wendy: You founded this series. What initially led you to want to produce an event like Fighting Back?

 

Terry: I head up the Historical Society; we have our archives, our museum, and our public programs. It’s a huge endeavor to run these programs, to build them, and to grow them, and make sure that we are meeting the public need. I was looking for a way to be a part of the resistance myself, and yet still be able to do my work. I was looking for a program to be part of the resistance, to build conversations between generations, speak to timely issues that are relevant to the resistance movement, and put it in a historical context. This is basically the solution for me. I don’t participate in them, other than to get them organized, then I introduce the moderator, and turn it over to them from there.

 

Wendy: What brought you to the GLBT Historical Society and to your role as Executive Director there?

 

Terry: They were looking for an executive director and I have worked in nonprofits, mostly queer or AIDS related nonprofits, for 30 years. My work in the community in the mid ‘80s was around AIDS activism, so I jumped at the opportunity. It felt like it was a perfect point in time for me; I’m in my mid 50s. I’ve played a role, a minor role, in our queer movement work, so I know a lot of the contemporary history and a lot of the people who have been involved in our queer history. I thought that this was a great opportunity for me at this point in time, to help to collect that history and to make it available to the public. We’re trying to build a much larger museum, so that’s our big project and it’s extremely challenging for all of us involved with the organization, but I think it’s important work to do. This is basically my niche. I work with a lot of quirky, interesting people, and get to interact with a lot of historians, and activists, and authors, and artists who are on the cutting edge of creating our culture. How could I turn it down?

 

GLBT Museum is located at 4127 18th St.

 

• • • Also in this Issue • • •

Le Marais Opens After Unexpected Delays

Castro welcomes the new bakery and bistro on Caffeine Alley

 

Photos by Jessica Webb

 

I sat down with Patrick Ascaso, owner of Le Marais, in the sun-filled café with windows from the floor to the ceiling. He tells the Courier’s readers about his passion for a bakery and the many risks that have defined his life in Paris, New York, Miami and San Francisco. Patrick now owns a small business that includes his bakery and a café and bistro on Chestnut Street, at Ghirardelli Square and in the Castro.

 

SS: You’ve made many dramatic changes in your life. Why did you move from Paris to New York and eventually worked in high-risk investing. What is your education and training in finance?

I fell in love with NYC at 15. I was 17 when I moved from Paris to New York and my cousin helped me find work in restaurants. Learning English took up most of my first year.

 

Then I got serious and my parents said they would support me while I went to NYU, where I got a degree in finance. I worked in finance for several years, but I always had an idea of a bakery. I used to go to bakeries in different cities when I traveled in France.

 

In early 90s, I opened a bakery and café in Miami with a friend. It was not a success and we sold it a year later. I moved to San Francisco in 1994 and resumed my business career. I was looking for a new adventure and I was curious about San Francisco. It reminded me of a European city. I worked for a financial company and did well.

The sunlit cafe inside of Le Marais Bakery.

SS: Why make a change from finance when you were so successful?

 

This was at a time when my firm changed several times and the government regulations were dramatically changing. My wife said, “What have you always wanted to do?”

 

Open a bakery! It was a passion I had nurtured for many years. I felt I could succeed because I had this twenty-year passion for bakeries. I wanted to do something in life. I knew someone in France who was a baker who helped me learn how to start a bakery. It was a steep learning curve!

 

This was in 2012. There was a coffee revolution going on! I was looking at the coffee model that was booming in this area. There are about 3,000 bakers in the U.S. and in Europe about 33,000. I thought a good neighborhood bakery would do well in the Castro.

“I buy the best ingredients at farmers’ markets and the Ferry Building,” says owner Patrick Ascaso.

After several attempts we found the Chestnut location for the bakery. I’m not a professional baker—taste is my strength. We found some good bakers and after a year we opened the bakery.

 

I buy the best ingredients at the farmers’ markets in San Rafael and the Ferry Building four times a week and drop all them off on Chestnut Street early in the morning.

 

SS: Many people associate Le Marais with the gay center of Paris, an exclusive place to live, one of oldest districts of the city. Do you have an association to Le Marais?

 

We love the area of the Le Marais. We visit often when in Paris. Now it is very popular.

 

SS: Why did you choose the corner of 18th and Sanchez?

 

The way the houses look and the very attractive community. I wanted to place a bakery in a neighborhood where a lot of people lived. For years I’ve been looking at the evolution of this neighborhood. It’s seen a big change in the last few years. I liked the place and when I found it the windows were covered. Now open, this place looks memorable.

 

When we bought the place, the Victorian was in shambles. They left only a walk-in fridge. Originally, we thought we would do a coffee shop and bakery, not a restaurant. One morning the contractor and I decided to take the fridge out. The side wall was resting on the fridge.

 

When we did pull out the fridge—the whole floor and walls collapsed exposing the staircase of the apartment upstairs! In the rubble, we found there was an exhaust (pipe) that went up to the roof. We thought we’d never have the kitchen but we could have one now! That’s why it took us an additional year of construction.

 

The place is very simple. There are a few things that represent European cafes, and a few things that make it happen. There is a lot of natural beauty here. My wife designed the whole place.

 

I’d like to tell the neighborhood that we want to offer simple foods with the best ingredients to have the best quality. We’re very happy the neighborhood has received us with a lot of kindness and happiness and has made us feel at home. People have given us a chance and I think that is great.

 

Le Marais joins “Caffeine Alley” at 18th and Sanchez.

• • •  Also in this Issue • • •

Eviction and Exile: A Watershed Moment?

Proposed St. Luke’s Hospital Sub-Acute and SNF Units Closure

Ruth Cativo testifying before the San Francisco Public Health Commission during a Proposition Q hearing opposing the closure of St. Luke’s sub-acute SNF unit where her father is a long-term care patient. Photo: © Courtesy of California Nurses Association.

 

Out-of-county patient dumping of San Franciscans following hospitalization is certain to increase.

 

San Francisco is poised to lose its only skilled nursing facility (SNF) providing both sub-acute care for patients who need ventilator care as well as for those who need routine post-acute hospitalization rehabilitation.

 

St. Luke’s, operated by California Pacific Medical Center, announced June 6 it’s closing its SNF unit October 31, as there will be “no space” for a skilled nursing facility in either of its two new hospitals (St. Luke’s and Cathedral Hill locations).

 

Licensed for 79 SNF beds, St. Luke’s SNF currently has 24 “sub-acute” patients who face out-of-county placement as far away as Sacramento and Los Angeles. Sub-acute skilled nursing care is required for patients who need ventilators or other forms of very complex care to survive. There are no other sub-acute units in the county.

 

“Why is CPMC’s Foundation spending donor’s money on movies and free popcorn instead of on patient care?”

— Dr. Teresa Palmer

 

“The closure of St. Luke’s Skilled Nursing Unit represents a watershed moment in the history of San Francisco, a moment when many generations of San Franciscans will look back and wonder what happened to the options for persons who need neighborhood-based or local options to 24/7 [skilled] nursing care,” Benson Nadell testified to the Health Commission on August 15. Nadell is the program director of San Francisco’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, a state-administered program.

 

Nadell says the proposed closure of St. Luke’s sub-acute unit would become a sentinel event, which is defined as an “unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a patient or patients, not related to the natural course of the patient’s illness.”

 

A report from DPH in February 2016 — “Framing San Francisco’s Post-Acute Care Challenge” — documented that all private-sector hospitals cited out-of-county placement as necessary to transfer patients from acute care to lower levels of care. All acute care hospitals other than CPMC transfer sub-acute patients out of county, since CPMC does not allow admissions to its sub-acute unit from other hospital systems.

 

The number of private-sector out-of-county discharges aren’t reported, but we know that San Francisco General and Laguna Honda Hospital combined have discharged at least 541 patients, or more, out of county between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2017.

 

St. Luke’s hasn’t reported ethnicities of patients impacted by the proposed unit closures, but family members of patients say that all of the 24 patients in St. Luke’s sub-acute unit are people of color.

 

DPH informed the Health Commission on August 15 that to maintain San Francisco’s current skilled nursing facility bed rate as our population ages, the City would need 4,083 licensed SNF beds by 2030 — an increase of 1,644 beds over the current supply.

 

San Francisco’s new Dignity Fund, which will be awarded $575 million by July 2026, prohibits spending for hospital-based medical or SNF services.

 

DPH’s February 2016 report noted that because San Francisco is at risk of an inadequate number of SNF beds that a Post-Acute Care Collaborative (PACC) be created to explore options to bring new SNF capacity to market in San Francisco.

 

The PACC is a private group of hospital administrators. To date, the PACC has stated its solution would involve a “public-private partnership.” However, in over 18 months, the PACC has made no offer to use “private funds.” There has been no PACC action to solve the severe SNF bed shortage except to describe only what the public sector might do. Apparently, private non-profit hospitals (a.k.a., not San Francisco General), despite their “non-profit” status, are not interested in using their own resources for skilled nursing care.

 

Dr. Palmer testified to the Board of Supervisors on July 26: “I do not believe any progress has been made on the actions recommended in the 2016 DPH study. I believe DPH has not even met to even begin the process of mitigating the damage that successive closures of hospital-based SNF’s in San Francisco have caused, and will continue causing.”

 

The folks who will be most affected are not only the homeless and marginally housed, but any aging person without a very high income in San Francisco who becomes unable to care for themselves at home. “Do we really want to exile the aging to out-of-county facilities because San Francisco cannot take care of them? Because we rubber-stamped closures of SNFs like this?,” Palmer asked.

 

“If St. Luke’s closes, anyone who needs a sub-acute SNF ventilator unit will have to die in the ICU or leave the county immediately, because St. Luke’s sub-acute unit is the only ventilator-capable facility remaining in the City,” Palmer notes.

 

Family members and healthcare advocates are worried about the potential for transfer trauma to St. Luke’s sub-acute patients. Their discharge options are as far away as Los Angeles. “Transfer trauma is a documented affect of the relocation of frail disabled persons: Caregiver relationships are disrupted; the nexus of communications necessary to continuity of care are broken; the person moved from the familiar to the unfamiliar,” Nadell testified.

 

He further testified that when nursing home patients are relocated out of county, family members report that they visit less frequently, and patients spent more time in bed. Most of these patients die within a year, even without terminal diagnoses.

 

In 1988, San Francisco passed Prop. Q, which explicitly requires that the Health Commission determine whether private hospital reductions in services will have a detrimental effect on the health care of San Franciscans.

 

On August 15, DPH recommended to the Health Commission that closure of CPMC St. Luke’s 79-licensed beds in its sub-acute and SNF units will have a detrimental impact on health care services in San Francisco.

 

CPMC/Sutter has already removed any mention of St. Luke’s post-acute/SNF/sub- acute services from its website, as if those services had never existed, in spite of the fact final closure isn’t scheduled until October, and in spite of the fact the Health Commission and Board of Supervisors haven’t completed hearings on St. Luke’s proposed closure.

 

CPMC’s Foundation recently announced it is sponsoring a “Movies in the Park” series throughout this September, replete with special goodie bags including free popcorn and free fleece blankets for the first 250 attendees at each of the three events. The Recreation and Parks Department has confirmed that CPMC’s Foundation has paid $4,263 in park rental fees for the three movie nights.

 

Michael Lyon, a prominent advocate for elderly and disabled people, notes: “What are these free movies costing you? It’s costing you the only hospital unit in San Francisco offering long-term sub-acute care to severely sick people.”

 

Dr. Palmer asks: “Why is CPMC’s Foundation spending donor’s money on movies and free popcorn instead of on patient care? Is this designed to ‘market’ CPMC as a member of the community, while deciding that sub-acute patients can be exiled and die?,” she continued.

 

To prevent the St. Luke’s sub-acute closure from becoming a watershed moment in San Francisco’s history and a likely sentinel event, please contact Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Jeff Sheehy, Sandra Lee Fewer, and Ahsha Safai, who will be holding a second Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee hearing on St. Luke’s Skilled nursing beds in the near future.

 

Urge the Board of Supervisors to find a legislative solution to keep all of St. Luke’s 79 SNF beds, including the sub-acute beds, open in San Francisco!

 

Dr. Teresa Palmer worked as a Senior Physician Specialist in geriatrics at LHH for 15 years and has practiced medicine in San Francisco for 30 years. Patrick Monette-Shaw has been a Westside Observer columnist for over 15 years; Feedback: monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com. The two authors worked together at LHH for almost a decade.

 

• • • Also in this Issue • • •

Angela Alioto fought the tobacco industry for indirectly advertising to San Francisco youth.

Up in Smoke: 25 Years After the Indoor Smoking Ban

 

It was 1991, and for the first time in a long time, Angela Alioto turned to her legislative aide and said “go get me a smoke.” She had just lost the legislation to ban indoor smoking and after being smoke-free for 11 years, that day’s setback only fueled her flame.

 

She thought of ways to stop the tobacco industry from permeating their injustices onto San Francisco’s youth. Tobacco advertisements and vending machines were near schools, ballparks, corner stores and other establishments where children frequented. She knew that preventing illness due to tobacco meant more than just a ban on smoking inside the workplace.

 

“Childhood is when you addict them,” Alioto says of the tobacco industry. “You wouldn’t believe how they intentionally hooked third-year and fourth-year high school students and minority communities.”

 

Alioto was determined to stop the tobacco industry from preying. But as she wrote her legislation for the City to sue the tobacco industry, she found that the industry and an influential political figure were clouding her vision.

Photo courtesy of Angela Alioto’s private collection.

Former mayor Willie Brown, who was then speaker of the Assembly, had sat down in a Sacramento restaurant with some tobacco industry honchos. There they drafted a section of the Willie L. Brown-Bill Lockyer Civil Liability Reform Act of 1987 on a napkin, which became the 1987 “Napkin Law,” prohibiting Californians from suing the tobacco industry.

The Napkin Section states that anyone who uses a product that is “known to be unsafe by the ordinary consumer” is forbidden by law to sue on the grounds of product liability. California law forbids any consumer from suing the industry for selling an unsafe product.

 

As Board supervisor, Alioto worked her way from the inside out, starting with a ban on cigarette machines near schools, eventually banning them in bars. She passed ordinances to eliminate tobacco advertising and commercials near schools, basketball courts, libraries or educational institutions where children frequented.

 

She and her team went after Joe Camel and the eye-level ad campaigns targeted at children. Studies showed that by age six, nearly as many children could name Joe Camel, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company cartoon creation in the 1980s, in association with cigarettes just as they could name Mickey Mouse in association with Disney.

She also passed legislation banning self-service cigarette displays. Of all the passed initiatives, Alioto calls the 1993 verdict to ban indoor smoking “the big one.”

 

However, her victory came at a cost and she says some friends turned their backs on her.

 

“People would be outside their offices smoking and I’d have to cross the street because if I walked in front of them they would call me names and throw things. They were livid with me.”

Restaurant owners feared a loss in revenue with the indoor-smoking ban, but statistics proved otherwise. Restaurant sales improved b 22 percent after the ban because people who avoided smoke were now dining out.

 

Now, nearly 25 years after her victory over the tobacco industry in San Francisco, there’s a newly proposed cigarette ban that could go up in smoke: a proposition to halt sales of menthol and flavored tobacco.

 

Funded almost entirely by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Let’s Be Real San Francisco is a committee that includes the Arab American Grocers Association, a number of vaping outlets and the National Association of Tobacco Outlets. CBS Local reports that the committee collected $600,000 in cash contributions and $85,170 in non-monetary contributions this year as of July 31, according to filings with the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

 

Let’s Be Real San Francisco submitted just under 20,000 verified signatures, qualifying for a measure on the ballot that would repeal the ban on flavored tobacco products, an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year, according to the city’s Department of Elections.

 

“I’m against all cigarettes, but you can’t ban the product,” says Alioto. “You can decrease its demand, which is what we did to the point where these turkeys are adding strawberry and cherry [flavors] to their cigarettes.”

 

Alioto has advice for the Board of Supervisors as they prepare to butt-out Big Tobacco. “Prove that it’s their way to hook kids by making them think it’s kinder and gentler than a Camel or Marlboro. Make it as malicious as it truly is. Why did they do these flavors? The statistics are teenagers. You’re not going to get a 55 year old addicted, but if you get them addicted young, they’ll smoke until they’re 55.”

 

She adds that the amount of new cigarettes on the market stunned her.

 

“The flavoring is a reaction to our ban,” she adds. “It’s a way to make [smoking] look fun, almost like it’s candy, to get [kids] addicted. It’s an uphill deal, but you know that’s what it is.”

© Castro Courier 2014 No part of this website or artwork portrayed may be redistributed or republished without the express permission of the Castro Courier. Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writers and do not reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff.

Statue of Miguel Hidalgo in Dolores Park.

Photos: Tony Taylor

 

Officer Sutherland patrols Dolores Park.

Ruth Cativo testifying before the San Francisco Public Health Commission during a Proposition Q hearing opposing the closure of St. Luke’s sub-acute SNF unit where her father is a long-term care patient. Photo: © Courtesy of California Nurses Association.

 

Out-of-county patient dumping of San Franciscans following hospitalization is certain to increase.

 

San Francisco is poised to lose its only skilled nursing facility (SNF) providing both sub-acute care for patients who need ventilator care as well as for those who need routine post-acute hospitalization rehabilitation.

 

St. Luke’s, operated by California Pacific Medical Center, announced June 6 it’s closing its SNF unit October 31, as there will be “no space” for a skilled nursing facility in either of its two new hospitals (St. Luke’s and Cathedral Hill locations).

 

Licensed for 79 SNF beds, St. Luke’s SNF currently has 24 “sub-acute” patients who face out-of-county placement as far away as Sacramento and Los Angeles. Sub-acute skilled nursing care is required for patients who need ventilators or other forms of very complex care to survive. There are no other sub-acute units in the county.

 

“Why is CPMC’s Foundation spending donor’s money on movies and free popcorn instead of on patient care?”

— Dr. Teresa Palmer

 

“The closure of St. Luke’s Skilled Nursing Unit represents a watershed moment in the history of San Francisco, a moment when many generations of San Franciscans will look back and wonder what happened to the options for persons who need neighborhood-based or local options to 24/7 [skilled] nursing care,” Benson Nadell testified to the Health Commission on August 15. Nadell is the program director of San Francisco’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, a state-administered program.

 

Nadell says the proposed closure of St. Luke’s sub-acute unit would become a sentinel event, which is defined as an “unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a patient or patients, not related to the natural course of the patient’s illness.”

 

A report from DPH in February 2016 — “Framing San Francisco’s Post-Acute Care Challenge” — documented that all private-sector hospitals cited out-of-county placement as necessary to transfer patients from acute care to lower levels of care. All acute care hospitals other than CPMC transfer sub-acute patients out of county, since CPMC does not allow admissions to its sub-acute unit from other hospital systems.

 

The number of private-sector out-of-county discharges aren’t reported, but we know that San Francisco General and Laguna Honda Hospital combined have discharged at least 541 patients, or more, out of county between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2017.

 

St. Luke’s hasn’t reported ethnicities of patients impacted by the proposed unit closures, but family members of patients say that all of the 24 patients in St. Luke’s sub-acute unit are people of color.

 

DPH informed the Health Commission on August 15 that to maintain San Francisco’s current skilled nursing facility bed rate as our population ages, the City would need 4,083 licensed SNF beds by 2030 — an increase of 1,644 beds over the current supply.

 

San Francisco’s new Dignity Fund, which will be awarded $575 million by July 2026, prohibits spending for hospital-based medical or SNF services.

 

DPH’s February 2016 report noted that because San Francisco is at risk of an inadequate number of SNF beds that a Post-Acute Care Collaborative (PACC) be created to explore options to bring new SNF capacity to market in San Francisco.

 

The PACC is a private group of hospital administrators. To date, the PACC has stated its solution would involve a “public-private partnership.” However, in over 18 months, the PACC has made no offer to use “private funds.” There has been no PACC action to solve the severe SNF bed shortage except to describe only what the public sector might do. Apparently, private non-profit hospitals (a.k.a., not San Francisco General), despite their “non-profit” status, are not interested in using their own resources for skilled nursing care.

 

Dr. Palmer testified to the Board of Supervisors on July 26: “I do not believe any progress has been made on the actions recommended in the 2016 DPH study. I believe DPH has not even met to even begin the process of mitigating the damage that successive closures of hospital-based SNF’s in San Francisco have caused, and will continue causing.”

 

The folks who will be most affected are not only the homeless and marginally housed, but any aging person without a very high income in San Francisco who becomes unable to care for themselves at home. “Do we really want to exile the aging to out-of-county facilities because San Francisco cannot take care of them? Because we rubber-stamped closures of SNFs like this?,” Palmer asked.

 

“If St. Luke’s closes, anyone who needs a sub-acute SNF ventilator unit will have to die in the ICU or leave the county immediately, because St. Luke’s sub-acute unit is the only ventilator-capable facility remaining in the City,” Palmer notes.

 

Family members and healthcare advocates are worried about the potential for transfer trauma to St. Luke’s sub-acute patients. Their discharge options are as far away as Los Angeles. “Transfer trauma is a documented affect of the relocation of frail disabled persons: Caregiver relationships are disrupted; the nexus of communications necessary to continuity of care are broken; the person moved from the familiar to the unfamiliar,” Nadell testified.

 

He further testified that when nursing home patients are relocated out of county, family members report that they visit less frequently, and patients spent more time in bed. Most of these patients die within a year, even without terminal diagnoses.

 

In 1988, San Francisco passed Prop. Q, which explicitly requires that the Health Commission determine whether private hospital reductions in services will have a detrimental effect on the health care of San Franciscans.

 

On August 15, DPH recommended to the Health Commission that closure of CPMC St. Luke’s 79-licensed beds in its sub-acute and SNF units will have a detrimental impact on health care services in San Francisco.

 

CPMC/Sutter has already removed any mention of St. Luke’s post-acute/SNF/sub- acute services from its website, as if those services had never existed, in spite of the fact final closure isn’t scheduled until October, and in spite of the fact the Health Commission and Board of Supervisors haven’t completed hearings on St. Luke’s proposed closure.

 

CPMC’s Foundation recently announced it is sponsoring a “Movies in the Park” series throughout this September, replete with special goodie bags including free popcorn and free fleece blankets for the first 250 attendees at each of the three events. The Recreation and Parks Department has confirmed that CPMC’s Foundation has paid $4,263 in park rental fees for the three movie nights.

 

Michael Lyon, a prominent advocate for elderly and disabled people, notes: “What are these free movies costing you? It’s costing you the only hospital unit in San Francisco offering long-term sub-acute care to severely sick people.”

 

Dr. Palmer asks: “Why is CPMC’s Foundation spending donor’s money on movies and free popcorn instead of on patient care? Is this designed to ‘market’ CPMC as a member of the community, while deciding that sub-acute patients can be exiled and die?,” she continued.

 

To prevent the St. Luke’s sub-acute closure from becoming a watershed moment in San Francisco’s history and a likely sentinel event, please contact Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Jeff Sheehy, Sandra Lee Fewer, and Ahsha Safai, who will be holding a second Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee hearing on St. Luke’s Skilled nursing beds in the near future.

 

Urge the Board of Supervisors to find a legislative solution to keep all of St. Luke’s 79 SNF beds, including the sub-acute beds, open in San Francisco!

 

Dr. Teresa Palmer worked as a Senior Physician Specialist in geriatrics at LHH for 15 years and has practiced medicine in San Francisco for 30 years. Patrick Monette-Shaw has been a Westside Observer columnist for over 15 years; Feedback: monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com. The two authors worked together at LHH for almost a decade.

 

• • • Also in this Issue • • •

Photo: Anthony O'Donnell

Photo: Anthony O'Donnell

Also in this Issue • • •

© Castro Courier 2014