A set of recommendations to improve security at San Francisco General Hospital following the death of a patient last fall was presented to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today, according to officials with the city Department of Public Health.
The University of California at San Francisco conducted the review of hospital security at the request of city officials after the death of Lynne Spalding, a patient who disappeared from her room in September of 2013 and was found dead in a stairwell on Oct. 8.
The review, completed this month, recommended steps including the appointment of a full-time hospital security program manager, the provision of more space for a security operations center and investments in new security equipment and technology, according to hospital officials.
In a statement today Lee said the review would help the city make sure San Francisco General met “the highest standards of security for all San Franciscans.”
“San Francisco General is a great public hospital that we rely on every day, for all our residents and visitors,” Lee said. “We must ensure that the security matches the excellent quality medical care at SFGH.”
The hospital had already announced a number of changes in January based on a second review by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Changes already made include daily stairwell checks, improved door alarms and routine checks on patients when alarms are activated, as well as development of a missing patient policy.
In addition, the sheriff’s department, which handles security at the hospital, made staffing changes including reassigning a dispatcher, two senior deputies, and a sergeant away from the facility and assigning a captain, two lieutenants, two sergeants and two senior deputies.
Other changes recommended in today’s report that were already underway include the development of a comprehensive security management plan, orientation and training program and developing a security check-list for regular rounds, according to hospital officials.
The new acute care building now under construction will also have stronger security features including enhanced surveillance and tighter access controls, officials said.
In the wake of Spalding’s death, officials uncovered a number of errors made in the search. Deputies failed to check all stairwells and failed to follow up on an Oct. 4 report of a person in a stairwell.
There were also technical problems with door alarms and surveillance cameras, and hospital officials initially issued an incorrect description of Spalding to deputies, describing her as a black woman wearing a hospital gown.
Spalding, who had been admitted to the hospital for treatment of an infection and disappeared shortly before she was supposed to be discharged, was white and wearing her own clothing when she was found.
Sara Gaiser, Bay City News