Is SF General ready for the crisis?

Nurses say the city isn't ready. Plus: A new head of DBI. That's The Agenda for March 16-22.

The Board of Supes is still meeting at this point, although the board is encouraging people to submit comments online and avoid public gatherings if possible. All of the hearings are available live at sfgovtv.

Among the issues coming up Tuesday/17: A resolution urging that the Department of Public Health take seriously the complaints by nurses at SF General that the city doesn’t have the staffing to handle the current case load – and will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

This chart shows how understaffed SF General is.

SEUI Local 1021, which represents nurses at General, has been sounding the alarm for years about staffing shortages. In recent months, the union has presented detailed information about the lack of critical-care workers in the city’s main public hospital.

But the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Public Health have largely dismissed those concerns. (I tried to ask the mayor about this last week, but she refused to take my question.)

Reports from nurses show repeated concerns about short-staffing.

Supervisors Ahsha Safai, Shamann Walton, Norman Yee, Catherine Stefani, Hillary Ronen, and Gordon Mar are proposing a resolution Tuesday/17

urging the administrative staff of the Department of Public Health to include frontline Registered Nurses and Resident Physicians in their decision-making process; to implement, to the extent possible, an expedited hiring process to less than 90-days from receipt of application; to cease supplementing staffing requirements with Contract Registered Nurses by implementing, to the extent possible, a ceiling of 5% or less of total staff; to provide annual violence prevention and disaster-preparedness training for all staff; and to support its bilingual staff.

The supes will also hold a special meeting Thursday/19 to discuss the city’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. That meeting’s at 11am in the board chambers.

The Building Inspection Commission will discuss (in closed session) Wednesday/18 the next director of that department. The mayor has called on the commission to fire Tom Hui; it’s likely the commission will move in that direction. It’s possible to send comments by email:

If you want to ensure your comment on any item on the agenda is received by the Commission in advance of the meeting, please send an email to sonya.harris@sfgov.org by 5pm on Tuesday, March 17 or call (415) 558-6164.

One possible suggestion: The DBI has traditionally hired directors from the ranks. If the evidence suggests that there has been a history of corruption in that department, maybe it needs an outsider to come in and clean house.

The Health Commission will be meeting Tuesday/17 to discuss the coronavirus crisis; that meeting’s at 4pm at 101 Grove, Room 302 – but again, you can watch on TV if you don’t want to go to a meeting.