San Francisco General’s Pharmacy to Remain Open, Giving Indigent Access to Prescriptions
In a compromise between union workers and the city's Department of Public Health, San Francisco General Hospital's pharmacy will remain open on weekdays, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Unions had opposed an earlier city proposal that would have closed the pharmacy, requiring about 60,000 patients to get their prescriptions at any of the city's 117 private pharmacies. Department of Public Health Director Mitchell Katz had "pushed hard for the closure" to save money and to bring pharmacy services in closer proximity to where patients lived, but union workers felt the plan was "a step toward privatization of county health services, and violated provisions against 'contracting out.'" In addition, hospital patients and union members said at an Oct. 17 health commission meeting that the original plan would have jeopardized the health of indigent patients "who might not be as welcome in neighborhood drug stores as other clientele." Under the new plan, the pharmacy will remain open on weekdays but patients will still have the option of obtaining drugs at local private pharmacies. Katz said he was "happy with the compromise," which was reached after three negotiation sessions. Service Employees International Union Local 790 Executive Director Josie Mooney added, "I think the union recognized that it can be a hardship for some patients to travel across the city to have their prescriptions filled. This compromise seems to be a way to meet the needs of all clients, not just some of the clients." If city health commissioners approve the compromise as expected at a meeting today, the program will take effect on Nov. 16 (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.