By ARMAND EMAMDJOMEH
The Southeast Mission Geriatric Services clinic remained jubilant on Thursday about their success in getting the mayor’s office to reinstate the funding to allow them to remain open.
“This is truly a victory for the poor, the elderly and the mentally ill of San Francisco,” said Francisca Oropeza, a psychiatric social worker who works at the clinic and helped mobilize against its closure.
A week ago the seniors protested the closing set for Wednesday, July 29, and by Monday they were informed that the clinic would stay open
Oropeza said it was also a victory for the Latino community, as a large number of her 70 patients speak only Spanish.
The planned closure came despite money set aside by the Board of Supervisors. The Department of Public Health intended to close the clinic and move its 270 elderly and mentally ill patients to the Omi clinic on Ocean Avenue, more than two miles away.
The Board of Supervisors “expected that this would be one of those no-brainers,” after funding was added back into the budget for the clinic, District 9 Supervisor David Campos said.
Campos appeared at the rally last Friday, July 24, along with District 5 Supervisor Chris Daly (South of Market, Treasure Island) and District 6 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi (Hayes Valley, Western Addition, the Haight and Alamo Square), to protest the closure of the clinic.
Campos said the closure was due to a disconnect between the mayor’s office and the health department, which had intended to close the clinic to consolidate mental health services.
“I wouldn’t have supported the budget,” had the clinic been allowed to close, Campos said.
He also brought up the issue of $45 million that the board has held in reserve from the city’s largest seven departments, which means that those funds cannot be spent without the board’s approval.
“Departments should know by now,” what was agreed to in the budget. He said this served as a warning to other departments to “have a sense of the commitments that were made.”
Otherwise, he said, “you’re jeopardizing that $45 million and you’re essentially having the mayor go back on what he promised.”