Mark Zuckerberg agrees that the San Franciscans who paid for the hospital with their tax dollars should decide its name; maybe “Empress Hospital” after the Widow Norton?
By Ivonne D.B. Registered Nurse
APRIL 1, 2015 — Upon announcement of a $75 million gift to San Francisco General Hospital by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his partner Dr. Priscilla Chan, it was declared that the newly completed building on Potrero would be renamed in their honor.
But now, after public concern about renaming a public institution for a billionaire in a City impacted by severe economic inequality, a compromise has been reached: There will be a popular referendum to decide upon a new name.
At a ceremony announcing the agreement, Zuckerberg specified that he and Dr. Chan felt that they were honored by the earlier proposal to honor their contribution but they respectfully declined. “After all,” Zuckerberg said, “it was the voters of San Francisco that entrusted almost a billion dollars in the bond measure that got this going in the first place.”
Zuckerberg was referring to San Francisco’s Proposition A that authorized $887 million dollars to construct a seismically sound new hospital building. The measure required a 2/3 approval and was approved by 84% of the voters in 2008 during the beginning of the Great Recession.
Though not known to be particularly observant, Zuckerberg noted that Jewish tradition declares anonymous charity to be superior as it preserves the dignity of the recipient.
Under the plan, members of the public will have 30 days to nominate up to 100 names. The San Francisco Board of Elections will certify the nominee names. There will be ranked choice voting and it will be added to the next election in November of this year.
Immediate past Co-President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club Tom Temprano announced that he is nominating Empress General Hospital as the name for the new building to honor the first openly gay candidate in San Francisco: Jose Sarria. “Many people knew him as “The Widow Norton,” Temprano explained, “but her full name was Empress Jose I, The Widow Norton.”
Current San Francisco General Hospital nurses and doctors were asked how they would feel to have their name on the new building. A physician who declined to have her name published said that she would not accept if nominated to have her name over the main entrance. “Over my dead body, and I mean that literally,” going on to clarify “it seems immodest to accept this honor while I’m alive.” Still, she announced support for both the grassroots naming effort and appreciation of Facebook founder and Dr. Chan’s contribution. “It’s definitely worth a ‘like’ to get $75 million,” she quipped, “Zuckerberg and Chan ought to at least have a wing named after them, unless they prefer the drumstick”
Ivonne D.B. is the nomme de drag of an SEIU Local 1021 health worker activist at San Francisco General Hospital