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Indybay Feature

Keep Laguna Honda OPEN! Press Conference-Speak Out To Stop Closure of Laguna Honda

sm_laguna_honda_hospital_1.jpg
Date:
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Time:
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Event Type:
Press Conference
Organizer/Author:
United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Location Details:
Laguna Honda Hospital
In Front of Old Entrance Steps
375 Laguna Honda Blvd.
San Francisco

8/13 Saturday: Keep Laguna Honda OPEN! Press Conference-Speak Out To Stop Closure of Laguna Honda Defend The Residents, Community & Public Resources
Keep Laguna Honda OPEN!
Press Conference-Speak Out To Stop Closure of Laguna Honda Defend The Residents, Community & Public Resources

For years there have been attacks on Laguna Honda Hospital by corrupt CEO executives and those who want to shut it down.

Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center has been a critical public institution for the care and treatment of San Franciscans since 1886 and has helped generations of communities and working people protect their lives, and the people of San Francisco have provided hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to build facilities and maintain this treasure for the people of San Francisco.

The ongoing corruption scandals by the administration of this facility have not been solved by San Francisco politicians. They have allowed corrupt top officials to steal patient funds and the firing of whistleblowers like Dr. Derek Kerr and Dr. Maria Rivera while promoting those who are destroying the institution.

The US Health and Human Resources Secretary Xavier Becerra and his department has ordered that the facility be closed due to violations of the proper maintenance and have cut off funding for further functions of this facility despite the fact that the discharges of residents has already led to the deaths of 9 people. This healthcare emergency is not the time to shut down a facility that is vital to the protection of the lives of the residents.

There are over $80 billionaires in San Francisco and there are threats to shut down a critical care institution for workers people and poor people. This has to STOP!

Behind this attack is the drive for privatization of public institutions and the sale of public land by the City and County of San Francisco at Balboa Reservoir and other publicly owned land is being pushed by private developers and speculators.

This facility has been vital for the working class, Black, Brown and Asian communities. We demand that the order to close the facility be permanently rescinded by the Federal government and that there be a community labor oversight committee established for the oversight of this facility and those officials who have been respon- sible for the failure to enforce proper health and safety rules be held accountable by the City and County of San Francisco.

Join a labor community speak out at the facility to keep it open on Saturday August 13, 2022, at 11:00 AM
375 Laguna Honda Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94116

Initial Endorsers:

CCSF Higher Education Action Team HEAT
United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCLP
UCSF Do No Harm Coalition
SF Supporters of Students & Labor Against Privatization SLAP

For more information: (415)260-2565 (415)867-0628

http://www.ufclp.org
http://www.ccsfheat.org

Laguna Honda: State’s rushed closure of SF hospital paused after transfer deaths & community outcry
https://sfbayview.com/2022/08/laguna-honda-states-rushed-closure-of-sf-hospital-paused-after-transfer-deaths-community-outcry/

Laguna Honda: State’s rushed closure of SF hospital paused after transfer deaths & community outcry
August 4, 2022
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An elder residing at Laguna Honda gets a visit from a grand or great-grandchild this June. – Photo: Laguna Honda
Hospital shelters 700, majority people of color
by Griffin Jones, SF Bay View
On July 28, the federal government agreed to the City of SF’s request to pause transfers and discharges at Laguna Honda Hospital following nine patient deaths due to “transfer trauma.” This comes after CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), a federal agency, cut off Medicare and Medi-Cal payments to the facility – funding which makes it one of few long-term care sites in the city serving majority low-income people, most of whom are Black, Asian and Latinx.
In May, Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center lost its certification to operate upon inspection by CMS, which cited issues with hand hygiene, infection prevention and control as well as two missed doses of a medication. The inspection followed two non-fatal overdoses at the hospital that were self-reported in 2021 by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
CMS’ decertification required full closure of Laguna Honda by Sept. 15, 2022, which included the immediate discharging and/or transferring of all patients, many out of the county or out of state.
Laguna Hondans were among the first in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020. – Photo: Laguna Honda
Of the 57 transfers that had already taken place by July 25, at least four residents died shortly after transfer: three at an out of county nursing home and one at a medical respite homeless shelter, report the SF Gray Panthers.
Mayor London Breed said in a statement: “While I’m glad we’ve reached an agreement with the federal government to pause these transfers, it shouldn’t have come to this. When we entered this recertification process, we asked for an 18-month window to ensure that our residents did not receive any disruption of care at Laguna Honda.
“We were given four months, and we’ve seen the disastrous results of that requirement. We are ready and willing to confront any and all challenges we have to make Laguna Honda work, but that commitment should not conflict with the care we have provided for so many for so many years.”
Laguna Honda workers, residents, patient families and city leaders warned against transfers, which are entirely unnecessary, and have been loudly protesting closure since May. The pause has finally been granted, but only after the changes proved deadly.
“While a temporary pause on transfers is an important first step, we must fight for the pause on transfers to be permanent.”
The hospital, an institution since 1866, is the largest nursing home in SF and the only long-term care facility of its kind in the U.S., providing San Franciscans with culturally-competent care, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, AIDS care, dementia services, hospice and acute care, an adult day health care center and a senior nutrition program.
Of the approximately 700 Laguna Honda residents, 26% are African American, 29% white, 20% Asian, 18% Hispanic, 1% Native, 1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 4% unknown.
Theresa Rutherford, incoming president-elect of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021 and longtime certified nurse assistant at Laguna Honda Hospital, stated of the pause on transfers:
“While a temporary pause on transfers is an important first step, we must fight for the pause on transfers to be permanent. It breaks our hearts to know that four people already died as a result of the forced transfers ordered by CMS. Many of our patients are economically challenged people from communities of color with very complex healthcare needs; Laguna Honda is their home and many of them have nowhere else to go.”
Nurses and workers are a major part of the campaign to mobilize people in the city to save Laguna Honda patients, and their efforts are working. – Photo: Laguna Honda
Thanks to community-led protests, we can hope for the pause to be permanent until January 2023, when it is expected the hospital will be recertified.
To help, contact your government representatives now and attend the upcoming town hall on Laguna Honda Wednesday, Aug. 3, 1-2:20 p.m., presented by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. Register at tinyurl.com/laghonda.
This article was updated Aug. 5, 2022.
Griffin Jones is a journalist and copy editor formerly of the Los Angeles Review of Books. She can be reached at griffin [at] sfbayview.com.

UPTE-CWA 9119 Resolution Opposing closure of Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco
https://www.upte.org/2022-res4.pdf
Whereas UPTE has become aware of a recent report by the San Francisco Gray Panthers that the San Francisco Department of Public Health has been carrying out dangerous discharges of frail Laguna Honda Hospital residents, most of whom need Skilled Nursing Care and are very vulnerable to medically-recognized transfer trauma, to shelters and out-of-county nursing facilities, including ones owned by Brius, notorious for its bad care, and had planned to transfer over 600 residents, and

Whereas of some 56 residents transferred, at least five have died within days of being transferred,

Whereas, despite SFDPH’s insistence that the transfers are voluntary, many residents have not been told of their appeal rights, have been pressured to leave, and told that if they won their appeals to remain at LHH they might have to pay for their own care, and

Whereas, despite SFDPH’s insistence that they can safely transfer over 600 residents, most residents would have to be transferred hundreds of miles away, given the extreme shortage of facilities willing to take Medi-Cal residents, and gentrification providing an incentive to buy up board and care homes and convert them to luxury housing.

Whereas involvement of the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid was because of dangerous conditions at LHH resulting from the “Flow Project,” by which mentally ill and substance-using patients were taken out of SF General as soon as their Medi-Cal funding ran out, and placed in LHH, which had neither staff, equipment, or physical setup to safely care for them, and over LHH clinicians’ objections. This situation was the direct result of SFDPH failing to provide adequate inpatient and outpatient treatment for people suffering from mental illness and substance use.

Whereas LHH is at risk of losing 120 beds by San Francisco not appealing a CMS covid-related ruling that residents’ room have two beds or less; LHH was constructed only 15 years ago, has large rooms, and had extremely low covid infection rates throughout the pandemic.

Whereas San Francisco has an unusually high proportion of elder people living alone, many of whom are particularly poor, and Medi-Cal-accepting nursing homes and SNFs are very rare, so the threatened closure of Laguna Honda Hospital would be a disaster.

Be it resolved that UPTE, as a healthcare and education sector union, supports public health services especially for the most vulnerable of our society and supports the SF Gray Panthers in their demands that:

Laguna Honda be open to all San Franciscans who need nursing home care

SFDPH Stop the "flow" project & return admission decisions to LHH Staff

No forced closures

No discharges for Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) eligible residents

No discharges for non-SNF eligible residents until safe and local arrangements are made.

No loss of beds in this nearly new facility

Funding for existing residents must continue until recertification

Sufficient programs specifically for persons with disabilities who are also mentally ill and/or substance using must be made available immediately ---to allow them to remain in the community and so inappropriate nursing home admissions will be prevented.

https://graypantherssf.igc.org/about_us.htm

SF Gray Panthers: Please speak on Laguna Honda at Tuesday's Health Commission Meeting

New Call to Action on Laguna Honda Hospital: Please speak at Tues, Aug 9 Health Commission Meeting.

Tuesday, August 9, 4 PM, SF Health Commission Meeting, Discussion on LHH Recertification and Closure Plan. (Remote meeting, details below.)

View the Agenda. See instructions there for public comment. Laguna Honda will be discussed both in open and Closed Session; there will be an opportunity to give a 3 minute public comment before each agenda item including the Closed Session (which the public is not invited to.)

SF Gray Panthers Demand:
To truly serve San Franciscans as it should, we must demand that:
• Laguna Honda be open to all San Franciscans who need nursing home care
• SFDPH Stop the "flow" project & return admission decisions to LHH Staff
• No forced closures
• No discharges for SNF-eligible residents
• No discharge for non-SNF-eligible residents until safe and local arrangements are made.
• No loss of beds in this nearly new facility
• Funding for existing residents must continue until recertification
• Sufficient programs specifically for persons with disabilities who are also mentally ill and/or substance using must be made available immediately ---to allow them to remain in the community so inappropriate nursing home admissions will be prevented

Our specific issues with today's Laguna Honda JCC Executive Report (attached) are:

1. We demand that halt on discharges be permanent for nursing home eligible residents until recertification. (Today's JCC Executive Reports states that DPH doesn't know how long pause will last, p 5.) We are in support of staff at Laguna Honda refusing to allow these illegal and dangerous discharges.

2. Adding more staff, such as the 40 Patient Care Assistants is good-but why such low skilled staff? Direct care in nursing homes with medically complex residents is best done by R.N.s and C.N.A.s.

3. DPH should not proceed with reducing LHH's licensed bed count by 120. (This is in compliance with CDC's COVID-related specification of only 2 beds per bath for newly recertified facilities). LHH is only 15 years old, has large rooms, and had very few covid deaths when other nursing homes had huge losses. Isn't one point of CCSF/Chiu lawsuit to prevent the need for loss of these valuable beds? Or has it already been decided that this lawsuit is for show and is doomed to fail? (Today's JCC Executive Reports states DPH is starting the reduction, p 21.)

4. In terms of how Laguna Honda will operate after Recertification, best not to repeat past mistakes. San Franciscans need strong assurance from Mr. Pickens, Dr. Colfax, and the Health Commission that Laguna Honda Medical and Nursing staff will be free to independently screen and reject candidates from San Francisco General Hospital who are unsuitable or unsafe.

5. SF-DPH and related agencies must offer sufficient residential mental health and substance use services. The City must also offer accessible community residences for people with disabilities. This will provide an alternative to inappropriate placement at Laguna Honda.

How to give public comment to the SF Health Commission (also explained in Agenda)

PUBLIC COMMENT CALL-IN: 415-655-0003/ Access Code: 2464 369 6604
After entering the access code, press # twice to listen to the meeting
Press "*3" to request to speak. Speak immediately after you hear "Your line has been unmuted." You will be heard. (Max time: 3 minutes.)

Read a complete background on the Laguna Honda Hospital situation at bit.ly/LHH-ACTION (paste this into your browser if link does not work).
federal government over Laguna Honda closure

https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/laguna-honda-closure-17350266.php

Nanette Asimov
Aug. 4, 2022
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu and former City Attorney Louise Renne have both filed suit against the federal government to halt the closure of Laguna Honda hospital slated for Sept. 13 after the skilled nursing facility was decertified.
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu and former City Attorney Louise Renne have both filed suit against the federal government to halt the closure of Laguna Honda hospital slated for Sept. 13 after the skilled nursing facility was decertified.
Brontë Wittpenn/The Chronicle
San Francisco’s current and former city attorneys filed a pair of lawsuits late Wednesday that they hope will bring a screeching halt to the federal government’s effort to shutter Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center next month.
City Attorney David Chiu is asking a U.S. District Court judge to stop the federal government from cutting off funds to Laguna Honda as of Sept. 13, a deadline the city calls arbitrary and which would force the nursing home to shut down and displace 600 vulnerable residents.
Former City Attorney Louise Renne filed a separate, class-action lawsuit against state and federal officials on behalf of those residents. Most patients at the skilled nursing facility — one of the largest in the U.S. — are medically fragile and often very poor. Some have lived there for decades.
The pending closure has caused an uproar among supporters of the city-run nursing home, especially after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid forced Laguna Honda to begin transferring its frail patients in May in preparation for the closure. Of the 57 patients transferred or discharged, eight died within days or weeks of their moves.
An empty hallway at Laguna Honda hospital in San Francisco on July 20, 2022. The facility is required by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to transfer or discharge all patients by mid-September after the federal agency decertified it in April.
An empty hallway at Laguna Honda hospital in San Francisco on July 20, 2022. The facility is required by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to transfer or discharge all patients by mid-September after the federal agency decertified it in April.
Brontë Wittpenn/The Chronicle
Because 14% of the relocated people have died, possibly as a result of the phenomenon known as “transfer trauma,” federal officials agreed last month to pause the transfers.
“Pausing is not enough,” Renne told The Chronicle. “We’re asking them to end the discharge. Period. Families are worried sick. The mere threat of a discharge is wrong.”
In the city’s lawsuit, Chiu argues that the federal agency known as CMS chose a random date — Sept. 13 — to halt funding of more than $200 million a year in the form of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. The suit says shutting down the nursing home so quickly is illegal because San Francisco is appealing the agency’s decision to decertify Laguna Honda in the first place — and that appeal won’t be heard until at least October.
“We’re asking the federal government to exert compassion and common sense,” Chiu said. “Between the huge shortage of skilled nursing facility beds, we see potentially very negative consequences” if the facility is forced to shut down next month. “Individuals will become homeless. These people have nowhere to go.”
Renne put it more bluntly: “We’ve had eight deaths. Who knows if there would be more? (CMS) knows that as well as we do. How do they live with themselves?”
Chiu’s lawsuit notes that three patients discharged from Laguna Honda wound up in homeless shelters. And last month, when Laguna Honda officials called 1,400 nursing homes in a single week to try to comply with the transfer order, not one of them had a vacant bed eligible for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement and with appropriate services for Laguna Honda’s patients, according to the suit.
“CMS’s unreasonable requirements are not only harmful to patients and impossible to achieve, they are also unlawful,” says the city’s lawsuit. Chiu argues that the agency shouldn’t be allowed to shut down Laguna Honda before the city can make its case that CMS was wrong to crack down so hard on the facility, and that closing it before the appeal is heard denies San Francisco due process.
CMS officials could not immediately be reached for comment after the suits were filed. In an interview on July 26, however, a CMS official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Chronicle that the agency could extend its deadline.
“The timing is something we can revisit,” the official said.
CMS decertified Laguna Honda in April, six months after state inspectors declared it to be “in a state of substandard care.” CMS set Sept. 13 as the date it would stop paying to care for the facility’s hundreds of residents. Laguna Honda depends on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements of nearly $18 million a month, or more than two-thirds of its $26 million monthly budget.
The city’s lawsuit acknowledges that Laguna Honda must fix deficiencies and prevent them from recurring. But it also says the California Public Health Department — which recommended that CMS withdraw the Medicare and Medicaid funding — overstated the severity of the deficiences its inspectors found at Laguna Honda between October and March, and that it never should have made that recommendation.
Renne’s class-action suit, which seeks a trial by jury, makes the same argument. It’s also the basis of Chiu’s appeal.
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu speaks at a press conference about abortion rights at City Hall on June 1, 2022.
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu speaks at a press conference about abortion rights at City Hall on June 1, 2022.
Constanza Hevia H./Special to The Chronicle
Laguna Honda’s current troubles began in July 2021, after the facility reported that two patients had overdosed on illegal drugs and recovered. That report triggered the state visit in October, after which inspectors found the facility out of compliance.
The city’s lawsuit says the state’s finding was based on a “failure to eliminate all illicit drugs and contraband (such as cigarette lighters),” which in turn led to the recommendation that CMS terminate its contract with Laguna Honda on April 14 if the nursing home was still out of compliance.
Chiu argues that instead of allowing CMS to hastily shut down a vital institution, especially when there are virtually no adequate alternatives for most residents, the courts should give San Francisco time to make its case that decertifying Laguna Honda was done in error.
Laguna Honda is also correcting its deficiencies and should be allowed to complete that process, the lawsuit says. The nursing home “is confident that it will submit an application allowing it to be recertified as a Medicare and Medicaid provider by the end of the year.”
But if it has to shut down, Laguna Honda will need until Nov. 2023 to do so safely, the suit says.
In all, Chiu’s lawsuit paints a picture of a Catch-22 — an “impossible situation” — that CMS has forced on Laguna Honda, the city and the patients who depend on it. “Laguna Honda cannot stay open and it cannot close,” the suit says.
The city attorney said that “the federal government has left us with no choice” but to sue. “We’re hoping that CMS will come to the table and work with us to preserve this critical safety net.”

Laguna Honda halts discharges after deaths; future of the hospital still unclear

https://studio.youtube.com/channel/UCMIgEJUyBXsO4ckVj3dYasw/videos/upload?d=ud&filter=%5B%5D&sort=%7B%22columnType%22%3A%22date%22%2C%22sortOrder%22%3A%22DESCENDING%22%7D

By Sydney Johnson | Examiner staff writer | Jul 29, 2022 Updated Jul 30, 2022

LagunaHondaHospital

Patient transfers are being suspended for the 600 residents at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, but it is unclear how long the moratorium will last.
Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner
Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center is halting transfers for its remaining 600 residents following four deaths that occurred shortly after their relocation, according to a notice sent to residents on Thursday obtained by The Examiner. It is unclear exactly how long the transfers will be put on hold.

Federal regulators at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had required that Laguna Honda discharge as many patients as possible before Sept. 13, the soonest possible date of closure for the hospital if recertification is unsuccessful.

As part of implementing a closure plan required by federal regulators, Laguna Honda has transferred 57 out of 681 residents since May, according to a data dashboard updated by the hospital. At least four of those who moved died within just a few days after their relocation. Three others were sent to homeless shelters.

“While I’m glad we’ve reached an agreement with the federal government to pause a significant portion of these transfers, it shouldn’t have come to this,” said Mayor London Breed. “When we entered this recertification process, we asked for 18 months’ window to ensure that our residents did not receive any disruption of care at Laguna Honda. We were given four months, and we’ve seen the disastrous results of that requirement. We are ready and willing to confront any and all challenges we have to make Laguna Honda work, but that commitment should not conflict with the care we have provided for so many for so many years.”

“We are glad to be in agreement with CMS and CDPH (California Department of Public Health) and all understand that Laguna Honda residents have complex needs and that transferring them is often a challenge,” said Roland Pickens, CEO with the San Francisco Health Network and interim CEO with Laguna Honda Hospital. “Our staff are providing Laguna Honda residents with the best care possible while we all work towards recertification with CMS. Laguna Honda has served San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents for 150 years, and we plan to do so for another 150 years.”

RELATED: Death and despair amid forced relocations at Laguna Honda In April, CMS decertified Laguna Honda and cut the facility off from government-subsidized health care after the hospital was found out of compliance on multiple safety inspections, including finding illicit substances and drug paraphernalia on site, and failure to adhere to some hygiene and equipment safety protocols.

Some nursing home experts have argued that Laguna Honda’s violations pale in comparison to some of the abuses and issues at other skilled nursing facilities that have remained open. Laguna Honda itself had a high-profile scandal when staff took inappropriate photos of patients in 2019; however, the facility did not face the kind of threat of termination that it is navigating today.

“It was absolutely unprecedented for this to happen in a facility that large. This is unreal,” said Patricia L. McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a statewide consumer advocacy organization. “We have facilities in this state that shouldn’t be able to care for my cat, much less a human, and they stay open.”

Following mounting pressure from families, doctors and disability advocates, hospital officials told patients on Thursday that they would pause the transfers.

“This is great and a step in the right direction, but they should make the pause permanent. The minute I got the news, I contacted the families I’m in touch with at Laguna and they are just delighted,” said former City Attorney Louise Renne. “But now, everyone is wondering, what does the pause mean? At least for the time being, it’s a relief and a step in the right direction.”

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass a resolution that calls on U.S. Secretary Xavier Becerra of the Department of Health and Human Services to “suspend the requirement to relocate and transfer vulnerable patients at Laguna Honda Hospital while it is trying to regain certification.”

The resolution also called for payments for government-subsidized health care plans to continue through the end of the year. However, at this point, funding is still slated to dry up in September or November, depending on if the hospital is given a possible two-month extension that federal regulators have stated is possible.

Advocates and family members of Laguna Honda patients said there was great relief from the decision to slow down the discharges. But ambiguity around the looming decision over whether the hospital will regain certification continues to worry many with connections to the hospital.

“The Closure Plan has had challenges and negative impacts for our community. As a result, Laguna Honda worked with, and at the direction of, CMS, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to pause the discharge and transfer of all residents,” a letter sent to Laguna Honda staff on Thursday reads.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have passed. As a system we must do better,” said Ali Bay, a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health. “CDPH is providing technical assistance to the facility to improve its policies and procedures related to transfers.”

The vast majority of patients at Laguna Honda are low-income and rely on Medi-Cal and Medicaid.

“We are deeply concerned about the reports that residents of Laguna Honda Hospital & Rehab Center have died after being transferred to other facilities. Laguna Honda is under a closure plan that was developed and approved after significant health and safety violations were found at the facility,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Recent events at the facility are unacceptable, and it is our priority that regardless of income, people have access to safe, high quality care conditions.”
Added to the calendar on Mon, Aug 8, 2022 10:19PM
§Keep Laguna Open-Labor Community Speak Out To Stop The Closures
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
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There will be a labor community speak out and press conference to keep Laguna Honda Hospital open. As a result of discharges pushed by politicians and government officials already 9 residents/patients have died. This must STOP
§Patients Need Laguna Honda For Care
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
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Laguna Honda Hospital is a critical public institution for the care of injured and disabled yet it is threatened with closures. Join the labor community speak out to protect the patients and workers.
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