The Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center was approved by state regulators on Wednesday for Medicaid recertification, a move celebrated by San Francisco city officials who had fought to keep the century-plus-old facility open amid its threatened closure.

The California Department of Public Health and the state’s Department of Health Care Services approved Laguna Honda’s recertification for Medicaid, the federal program to provide free or low-cost health coverage to low-income people that is administered in the state as Medi-Cal.

Mayor London Breed’s office said that more than 95 percent of Laguna Honda’s patients rely on Medicaid funding and that the facility represents more than 30 percent of all skilled nursing beds in the city.

In April 2022, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) terminated Laguna Honda’s participation in Medicare and Medicaid provider programs, threatening the closure of the hospital after more than 150 years in operation, according to the mayor’s office.

San Francisco city officials celebrate the approval of Medicaid recertification for Laguna Honda Hospital, safeguarding its century-old legacy and critical role in providing healthcare to low-income patients amid prior threats of closure. (Deidre Foley/Bay City News)

Federal and state regulators cited safety concerns at Laguna Honda and required the hospital to move all 700 patients out of the facility, while also removing its Medicare and Medicaid provider agreements.

Drug paraphernalia in the facility, a lack of infection prevention and control, and missed doses of medication were among the cited concerns. A deadline to involuntarily discharge patients was extended until this September, ahead of Wednesday’s recertification by the state agencies on behalf of CMS.

Breed said in a statement that the recertification “is tremendous news for the Laguna Honda Hospital community and the residents and families who rely on this critical facility.”

House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi described Laguna Honda as “a pillar of the health and well-being for generations of San Francisco families” and said the recertification “will ensure that San Franciscans most in need will continue to receive excellent care now and into the future.”

Theresa Rutherford, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 that represents workers at the hospital, said Wednesday’s approval “means that Laguna Honda’s doors will remain open, that our medically fragile patients will not be shipped elsewhere to their detriment, and that our members will keep their jobs.”

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.