Hospital calling all city morgues 

Rebuilding a morgue at Laguna Honda Hospital has administrators searching for answers about what to do with bodies so families aren’t burdened by having to travel to the East Bay.

The hospital’s decades-old morgue is being demolished next year because the building it’s located in is seismically unsafe. A new morgue will be built as part of the next phase of the hospital’s redesign, but that will likely take about two years.

Since about 10 to 15 people die each month at the 780-bed hospital, administrators had hoped to contract out morgue services during the two-year period. However, that plan became complicated after a request for proposals was put out and only East Bay morgues responded.

Since Laguna Honda patients are generally San Francisco residents, hospital administrators decided that sending bodies to the East Bay for mortuary services might be a burden on survivors.

“That wasn’t going to work for us since the people who live and work at Laguna Honda are San Francisco residents, and their families generally are too,” hospital spokesman Marc Slavin said.

An amended request for proposals was issued, this time specifically requesting services from a San Francisco mortuary, Slavin said.

But there’s a problem: “There have been no responses to the [request] and the deadline has already passed,” he said.

According to documents provided to the San Francisco Civil Services Commission, the contract could be worth $200,000. The contractor would be responsible for picking up and storing bodies until the family or the state can make arrangements “for final disposition.”

The hospital has no backup plan if a San Francisco mortuary doesn’t respond.

“Now we just have to decide, are we going to put [a request] out again or is there some other creative
solution,” Slavin said in an e-mail.

As for whether the alternative could be an East Bay morgue: “It is not our preference,” he said.

New life for old hospital

The new Laguna Honda hospital was unveiled last month. Cost overruns and disputes delayed its opening.

  • Year hospital opened: 1866
  • Year construction began on new hospital: 2002
  • Year construction was slated to be completed: 2008
  • Year construction was completed: 2010
  • Projected cost of new hospital: $420 million
  • Actual cost: $584 million
  • Project details: 500,000 square feet of new construction and 150,000 square feet of remodeling
  • Cost of art inside new hospital: Almost $4 million
  • Size of campus: 62 acres

Source: Laguna Honda Hospital

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