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…
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.
Art With Elders at the Curry Senior Center – Community Partner Feature
Featuring recent AWE classwork
AWE at Genentech
1 DNA Way, South San Francisco, CA 94080Genentech, 1 DNA Way, South San Francisco
AWE/CAST/Openhouse Summer in the City Community Get-Together
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 94103CAST, 447 Minna St. , SF
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.
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.
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.
Art With Elders uses the power of art, creativity, and community to enrich the journey of aging.
Our vision is a society in which every older adult engages in the creative arts as part of a healthy and vibrant aging process.