I want to give you the back story to our follow-up today into the death of the eighty-two-year-old patient at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda; last week, we also explored whether budget cuts played a role in what happened.
We went to a meeting of the hospital’s oversight committee this morning. The chairman of the Joint Conference Committee, Dr. Edward Chow, announced they were going into closed session to discuss the case. The meeting’s agenda spelled out what should have happened. After the closed session, the committee should have reconvened in open session for a “possible report on action taken in closed session” and a “vote to elect whether to disclose any or all discussions held in closed session.” They had a duty under the law to reveal what happened in that closed session or publicly hold a vote to keep it secret.
I sat there watching the door to the conference room for about half an hour, and was quite surprised when the door opened and the committee members left for the day. I approached Dr. Chow to complain. His answer? "We have voted not to disclose any issues that were discussed at the closed session.” Dan: "But, you have to come back into open session and say what you did." Dr. Chow: "We did." Dan: "Well, the door wasn't open." Dr. Chow: "Sorry."
This is no small matter, according to the head of the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Doug Comstock tells us, “That’s totally illegal. That subverts the whole process.”
It’s also interesting that – right there on the Joint Committee’s agenda, under “Know Your Rights Under The Sunshine Ordinance” – they wrote, “The government’s duty is to serve the public, reaching its decisions in full view of the public.” That didn’t happen today.
San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew says he’s concerned about the transparency of this issue: “I'm just dumbfounded they had a closed session and when they came out of closed session that they didn't have a public hearing on this issue. I think it's time for the Board of Supervisors to act and get involved in this thing. I think we need to get down to the bottom of this. … I think it's pretty obvious, if they're holding closed door meetings, they're trying to hide something.”