Laguna Honda Hospital Achieves Major Milestone and is Recertfied in the Federal Medicare Program

***Press Release***
June 20, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Department of Public Health announces that Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center (Laguna Honda) was approved for Medicare recertification, the final step in securing the future of the facility and keeping residents in their home.

Laguna Honda can continue to accept and support residents regardless of their financial status as the facility will be reimbursed by both Medicare and Medicaid. More than 95% of Laguna Honda residents rely on Medicaid funding for their care. The remaining rely on Medicare funding. Together, the funding sources for resident care at Laguna Honda have been fully restored. 

 “I am grateful for the relief this brings to our current residents and their families, who have made clear that Laguna Honda is where they want to receive care,” said Mayor London Breed. “Laguna Honda embodies our city’s values and what makes San Francisco special.  We are a resilient city that cares for our most vulnerable and we never, ever give up. I want to thank all the staff at Laguna Honda and our union partners for their dedication and commitment. I also want to thank Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, and all the City and State leaders who have championed for Laguna Honda. Finally, I want to thank our state and federal partners for their collaboration to keep one of our City’s most prized public health institutions open. Laguna Honda is here to stay.”

Laguna Honda represents a significant and extensive commitment by San Francisco of publicly funded skilled nursing care for those with limited means. Representing more than 30% of all skilled nursing beds in San Francisco, Laguna Honda provides safety net healthcare services to hundreds of the City’s most vulnerable individuals with complex medical and care needs. 

“Laguna Honda has long been a pillar of the health and well-being for generations of San Francisco families,” Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said. “The full recertification by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will ensure Laguna Honda continues to provide life-saving care for patients with critical and complex medical and behavioral health conditions, regardless of their financial means.  We are grateful to Laguna Honda's devoted staff and all those who came together to ensure Laguna Honda will continue serving our most vulnerable San Franciscans for decades to come.”

Coupled the successful Medicaid recertification completed in August of 2023, Laguna Honda is now fully recertified in both Medicare and Medicaid, a successful completion to the more than two-year recertification with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“I could not be prouder of Laguna Honda staff. For more than twenty-four months, they have worked under immense pressure to transform Laguna Honda into a top skilled nursing facility, making clear to our regulators that we can meet and will continue to meet high standards of care.” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health for the City and County of San Francisco. “Throughout this transformation, Laguna Honda staff have remained dedicated to the health, safety, and wellbeing of their residents. I also want to thank our union partners, advocates, and local, federal and state partners for coming together to ensure San Francisco will continue to operate a world class skilled nursing facility.”

In April 2022, CMS terminated Laguna Honda’s participation in Medicare and Medicaid Provider Program. As a result of the termination, Laguna Honda was at risk of closing its doors after 150 years of serving San Francisco’s most in need. Laguna Honda responded with a heroic effort that put the health and wellbeing of residents at the center. Laguna Honda staff have made the facility-wide improvements necessary to improve resident care and safety as well as the significant changes to meet the rigorous regulatory requirements and timelines set by CMS.

Laguna Honda staff worked tirelessly to make rapid improvements to operations, culture, and personnel. Laguna Honda completed a facility-wide recertification plan with nearly 1,000 action items. The plan represented an immense amount of work with no stone left unturned. This included extensive trainings on skilled nursing best practices, improved clinical processes such as medicine administration, wound care, and infection prevention and control, improved fire life safety and emergency response programs, the launch of a dedicated resident grievance team, a greatly expanded resident council and much more.  Additionally, Laguna Honda hired a new leadership team with decades of combined experience in leading top-performing skilled nursing facilities. 

“Today we celebrate Laguna Honda for their historic fight to secure the future of Laguna Honda for today’s residents and for future generations of San Franciscans. On behalf of all unions and union members, it has been an honor to have partnered on this journey and to now reach this joyous conclusion of full recertification,” shared Theresa Rutherford, President of SEIU Local 1021. “The future is bright for Laguna Honda, and we look forward to continuing to create a skilled nursing facility that is an excellent place to work for our members and an excellent place to receive care for our residents.”

The full recertification of Laguna Honda provides relief to current residents and their families as well as future generations of San Franciscans who can now be assured about the future of Laguna Honda and accessible skilled nursing care in San Francisco. 

“Over the last two years, we have worked together to preserve this critical public health institution and restore an essential safety net for the people of San Francisco,” said City Attorney David Chiu. “Achieving this final step in the recertification process means Laguna Honda will be here to care for San Franciscans for generations to come. Thank you to our government partners, Laguna Honda staff, our Department of Public Health, and many Deputy City Attorneys for all of the work that led to this wonderful result.”

“Today we look to the future of Laguna Honda with great excitement and optimism,” said Roland Pickens, Director of the San Francisco Health Network “We asked our staff to do something extraordinary and they delivered. Together, we worked with our regulators to make facility-wide improvements to bring our 150 year old facility to the forefront of today’s skilled nursing practices. We now turn our attention to the new Laguna Honda and ensuring the positive changes are sustained and deeply embedded in our culture and operations. I look forward to taking in this moment with our Laguna Honda community of staff, residents, and loved ones.”

About Laguna Honda Hospital 

For more than 150 years, Laguna Honda has been a pillar of San Francisco’s healthcare system, caring for those most in need and providing critical health care services. Laguna Honda serves as a safety net for residents with complex medical needs who are low or very low income and often have no other options for care. Many residents have complicated chronic medical needs along with behavioral health components (such as diagnosed mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders) and other social or behavior issues.