I am appalled by the way St. Luke’s Hospital’s charitable programming is being gutted. Not only that, but its *natural* medicine: a Touro osteopathic teaching clinic. That’s right, they are cutting effective, natural medicine offered for free to those in need in a clinical context in which medical students are trained. The patients lose; the students lose. Everybody loses.
Check out the letter I submitted to the Health Commission urging them to advise the SF Board of Supes to stop CPMC (Sutter) from this action. The address is there, if you feel compelled to weigh in on the issue. If you’re in the city today, the Health Commission hearing is today and there is another one coming June 16 at 2:00 pm. Speak up!
May 19, 2009
Department of Public Health
101 Grove Street, room 308
San Francisco, CA 94102
RE: Sutter/CPMC Charity Service Cancellations
To the Health Commission:
I am shocked and saddened to hear that charity service programs such as Touro University’s osteopathic clinic and student training are being canceled. There has been a justifiably angry outcry against this move from the doctors offering these services as well as from the students who have an unparalleled opportunity to learn in the hospital setting, not to mention patients benefiting from these free services.
It is for services like these that Sutter/CPMC has been granted non-profit status. As such, they have a responsibility to answer the real needs of the community. How can they hope to expand and create big, new hospitals such as that proposed for Cathedral Hill without protecting charity programs for facilities already in existence? If Sutter/CPMC wishes to function like a for-profit company, then they should be stripped of their non-profit status.
My child has been a patient of the osteopathic training program with Drs. Cislo and McCombs, DO, through Touro University at St. Luke’s, one of the Sutter/CPMC hospitals. My son’s health has improved dramatically from his care there over the past two years. He was successfully treated through natural, hands-on osteopathic methods from symptoms that his pediatrician claimed couldn’t be helped. At each visit, a room full of students got to share the joy of my boy’s improved health and comfort. Real learning happened and real confidence in natural osteopathic care was instilled in each of us. It is a beautiful program–not only for us, but for many other families who may not be able to find the same quality services due to financial constraints.
Ours was a simple story of good health turning great, but I know that for other patients participating in that program, it has been a story life or death. That is, I am told that some patients are literally kept alive through Touro’s free program. What happens to these patients if the care is stripped?
This is yet another insult in a long line of charity service cancellations. Guided by Sutter/CPMC, the “new” St. Luke’s has already cut many badly needed services in favor of more profitable programs. Consider the impact our community has suffered already: the loss of the entire psychiatric care unit, the loss of neo-natal intensive care, the loss of much-needed SNF beds, the loss of the heart of the maternity ward which was once famous for its commitment to women-centered, safe, demedicalized birth. Now, charity osteopathic medicine has had its final day.
Please listen to the opinions of the hospital doctors and nurses. Let people who took the Hippocratic Oath guide the hospital’s direction. They know what is best for their patients, not the money guys. Please advise the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to keep Touro’s and other charity programs alive, otherwise they must revoke Sutter/CPMC’s non-profit status.