Saving Laguna Honda Hospital - God's Hotel in Mortal Danger?

Saving Laguna Honda Hospital - God's Hotel in Mortal Danger?

Laguna Honda Hospital, home to 750 vulnerable residents, has recently been threatened with closure. Although there have been challenges, Laguna Honda administrators and staff have implemented a variety of new protocols to ensure all appropriate health and safety standards. Please read below an appeal by AWE Executive Director Mark Campbell in support of keeping Laguna Honda Hospital open:

“Ten years ago, Dr. Victoria Sweet offered her perspective on Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH) in her book, God’s Hotel, which has served needy San Franciscans since 1866 and remains one of the largest institutional care communities in the country. It has the rare ability to meet patients where they are and provide specialized care combined with therapeutic programming not tenable at smaller care homes.

I’ve been providing art classes to Laguna Honda residents three days a week for over 25 years through my non-profit Art With Elders (AWE) and can attest to the good work and positive outcomes Sweet described.

When Laguna Honda planned to rebuild due to seismic vulnerability and then transfer its 750 residents into the new building in 2010, AWE was invited by then Executive Director, Larry Funk, to consult on the design of an art studio. That invitation as well as other carefully considered programs, clinics, well-appointed facilities/rooms, therapy pool and small farm were all clear signs that quality patient care was of prime importance.

There is always a lengthy waiting list for admittance to LHH. But far too few beds are available to accommodate our elder, frail and psychologically troubled San Franciscans; Laguna Honda remains a life-affirming oasis in an increasingly hostile environment for these, our most vulnerable neighbors.

When Covid first appeared and began ravaging the frail, elderly and disabled, we heard horror stories about devastating loss of life at large nursing homes everywhere. At LHH, we were terrified that we would see similar tragedy. Months progressed and there were limited reports of illness, and those were managed successfully; loss of life was kept at a seemingly impossibly low threshold. LHH and its overseer, the San Francisco Dept of Public Health, were held up as national examples. The devoted teamwork of skilled care workers, combined with dedicated and nimble administration, demonstrated how a large community like LHH could contend proficiently with such a potentially catastrophic health crisis.

As COVID became “manageable” the staff faced a new obstacle: they were criticized for the near impossible task of policing the few desperate, younger, drug afflicted rogue residents, who remain in dire need of a more specialized care setting. These people  are at LHH because there is nowhere else for them to go!  The looming opioid crisis is a real challenge, especially within the compassionate framework celebrated by our progressive city.

First, figure out how to solve the rampant nation-wide chemical dependency epidemic, and then hold LHH to these, now wholly unrealistic, standards.  Let’s fix it, not destroy it.

The misguided expressions of authority and counterintuitive policy, have led to a “shut it down” order. It will inflict pain on our entire community, but I can say first-hand that those bearing the brunt of this ill-conceived experiment are our beloved and vulnerable residents.

Imagine suffering a third relapse of cancer; your family visits regularly during your few remaining days, and you now learn that you are being transplanted far away to a completely unfamiliar home to die. You’re fully aware that your devoted family will be unable to afford regular visits. 

Imagine that you’ve spent much of your life homeless. You finally secure admittance to LHH and have weened yourself off destructive chemical dependency which nearly took your life. You’ve rehabilitated to a degree of physical stability, despite having lost legs to diabetes. Now you’re looking at being cast back into the streets from which you managed to escape. Your fear is all encompassing. 

It remains unclear to me who or what bureaucratic mechanisms bear responsibility for this slowly unfolding process of cruel destruction, but WE SIMPLY CANNOT LET IT HAPPEN. We can and must all do better. The cost to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters is unforgivable. We need more beds, not fewer! Destroying Laguna Honda will only accelerate the critical healthcare problems San Francisco and our entire country faces.”

Let’s keep the lights on in God’s Hotel…

Mark Campbell
Executive Director ART WITH ELDERS
6/22/22

Wed, 6/22/22
Courageous Creativity - Celebrating Black History

Courageous Creativity - Celebrating Black History

Online Exhibit

February 23, 2022 – December 31, 2022

Art With Elders Celebrates Black History with this special exhibit honoring African American Artists. The exhibit spotlights the creativity of African American artists within the AWE program. Laguna Honda Hospital artists are featured along with participants from several other San Francisco Bay Area communities.

The exhibit can be viewed in our Online Exhibits Gallery.

Work from the exhibit by Laguna Honda residents is also on display on the first floor at Laguna Honda Hospital, but public access to Laguna Honda remains restricted due to precautions related to COVID-19.

Wed, 2/23/22
AWE at the Curry Senior Center

AWE at the Curry Senior Center

Art With Elders at the Curry Senior Center – Community Partner Feature
On location and online exhibit – May 19 – July 31, 2022
Opening Event at the Curry Senior Center Thurs. May 19, 2-4pm
315 Turk Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

View the exhibit online

Thu, 5/19/22
New Work Summer 2022

New Work Summer 2022

Online Exhibit
Jun. 15 – Sept. 15, 2022

Featuring recent AWE classwork
Please enjoy this collection of 94 artworks created by artists in our classes!

Visit our online gallery to view the exhibit

Wed, 6/15/22
AWE at Genentech

AWE at Genentech

AWE at Genentech
Opens Mon. Jul. 11
This exhibit, hosted by STAGES at Genentech, features artworks created by seniors participating in the Art With Elders (AWE) program. The exhibiting artists represent a diverse cross section of older adults from around the San Francisco Bay Area.

1 DNA Way, South San Francisco, CA 94080

Genentech, 1 DNA Way, South San Francisco
Mon, 7/11/22
AWE/CAST/Openhouse Summer in the City Community Get-Together

AWE/CAST/Openhouse Summer in the City Community Get-Together

AWE/CAST/Openhouse Summer in the City Community Get-Together
featuring an Art Walk and Art Workshop
with Openhouse, DISH, and Mint Mall

Thu. Aug. 18, 1-4pm

Please join us for a special summer event! Artists from the Art With Elders class at Openhouse will be exhibiting their work at an Art Walk and Art Workshop hosted by the Community Arts Stabilization Trust outdoors in the park at 447 Minna St. SF, CA 94103

CAST, 447 Minna St. , SF
Thu, 8/18/22

About Us 

Art With Elders (AWE) uses the power of art, creativity, and community to enrich the journey of aging. Art With Elders engages older adults in senior residential communities, senior centers, and living independently in weekly fine art classes with a view to exhibiting their work. 

Classes

Weekly art classes are the core of what we do. We offer free introductory classes for individuals, residential communities, and senior centers. Online and In Person options available. Contact us at info@artwithelders for more information.

Exhibits

Art With Elders believes in showcasing students’ artistic achievements. Every year, class participants submit their work for the Annual Exhibit, a professionally juried collection of AWE’s finest works. AWE shares the extraordinary talents of elder artists with the community by exhibiting selected works in venues across the Bay Area, and online.

Our Mission

Art With Elders uses the power of art, creativity, and community to enrich the journey of aging.

Our Vision

Our vision is a society in which every older adult engages in the creative arts as part of a healthy and vibrant aging process.