Sheriff's staffing changes at SFGH following patient disappearance

There's been a big shakeup in the sheriff's security unit at San Francisco General Hospital.
November 8, 2013 9:04:50 PM PST
There's been a big shakeup in the sheriff's security unit at San Francisco General Hospital after a patient went missing for two weeks only to be found dead in a stairwell. There's now also a federal investigation into the incident.

"It may look good on paper; it may appease people at a certain level in government, in city hall," Spalding family attorney Haig Harris Jr. said.

But Harris, the lawyer for Lynne Spalding's family, is not appeased by the sheriff's shakeup.

The re-assignments come on the heels of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's news conference this week, where he apologized for his department's slow and shabby search for the 57-year-old woman.

Spalding's body was found Oct. 8 in a locked hospital stairwell 17 days after she disappeared from her room.

At Wednesday's briefing, Mirkarimi promised to make a thorough review of hospital security.

"This assessment will include a review of resources needed to provide appropriate 24-7 law enforcement services," Mirkarimi said.

ABC7 News learned Friday that four people have been transferred out of the hospital security unit ? a civilian dispatcher, two senior sheriff's deputies and one sergeant.

The unit will now be under the command of a captain, who reports directly to Mirkarimi. There will be two additional lieutenants, two sergeants to complement three others still there and two new senior deputies.

The hospital security unit, comprised of 28 deputies and institutional officers, will now have a total of 31 members.

Harris says this is just changing personnel and not real reform.

"If you don't change protocol and if you don't make sure these people do their jobs, it's no different from what it was before," he said. "The shakeup is more for looks than any real substance."

The sheriff's office says there will be more staff changes next week.

ABC7 News has also learned that federal investigators have been at the hospital all week conducting their own probe. They're from the agency that controls the funding of Medicare and Medicaid to hospitals. They can fine and even shut down hospitals if they find problems that aren't later fixed.


Load Comments