Laguna Honda Hospital Celebrates 150 Years Of Service

Laguna Honda Hospital Celebrates 150 Years Of ServiceVolunteers and attendees enjoy an arts table at Saturday's event. (Photos: Cheryl Guerrero/Hoodline)
Cheryl L. Guerrero
Published on October 19, 2016

Laguna Honda Hospital marked its sesquicentennial anniversary on Saturday with an event to celebrate the hospital's history, service, staff and residents. Laguna Honda’s executive administrator Mivic Hirose kicked off the event, with a brief program that included speeches by Mayor Ed Lee, SF Health Director Barbara Garcia, District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, former hospital resident Daniel Berrner and others.

Lee presented Hirose with a proclamation from the city, naming Saturday Laguna Honda Hospital Day in San Francisco. The hospital also received a proclamation from the California State Legislature. 

Laguna Honda Executive Administrator Mivic Hirose speaks at the event.

The community celebration included hospital tours, music, arts and crafts, food trucks, a screening of the documentary “States of Grace,” and a visit from the Cal Men’s Basketball Team.

Many of Laguna Honda’s residents, whom Hirose called “our core and our reason for being," also attended the festivities, enjoying live music, visits with the facility’s farm animals and portraits drawn by a caricaturist.

The San Francisco Girls' Chorus and Boys' Chorus performed Saturday.

The skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, located on 62 acres west of Twin Peaks near Forest Hill, is owned by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. When the new hospital buildings opened in 2010, the facility became the “most modern skilled nursing rehabilitation center in the country,” and the first green-certified hospital in California.

In her opening remarks, Hirose said the celebration was “to show gratitude and pride, because in the past 150 years, the commitment of the city, the staff [and] the residents of San Francisco has not wavered."

Laguna Honda began in 1866 as an almshouse for the poor and destitute of San Francisco. Taking its name from the Spanish term for the natural spring-fed deep lagoon on the site, it was situated on 87 acres, where residents cultivated their own food and raised livestock.

Volunteers and attendees spend time with some of Laguna Honda's farm animals.

In subsequent years, it adjusted its purpose to meet the needs of the city, becoming a hospital in a smallpox epidemic of the late 1800s, then a small asylum, before assisting in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. Construction of the buildings that would become the Laguna Hospital and Rehabilitation Center began in 1924, and the facility opened its doors in 1926.

Today, Laguna Honda is a 780-bed facility that has earned five stars from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for quality. As Mayor Lee noted, the “facility produces the most extensive rehabilitation program for … our residents to recover from strokes, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic disorders, brain injuries, neurological conditions, amputations and other major trauma.”

One attendee, former employee Laura Blue, traveled up from Burlingame for the celebration. Nine years ago, when she was a nurse manager for the Positive Care Unit, Blue would occasionally bring her daughters to work with her. On Saturday, she brought her daughter once again, “for her to remember," she said. She described the festivities and new facility as “just amazing."

“It’s beautiful,” she said. "They’ve come so far in all these years.”

Laura and Gina Blue at Saturday's celebration.

Blue was excited to visit her old unit and co-workers, as well as to see the changes the hospital has undergone since her departure.

“It’s great to see a lot of the old hospital in the new hospital,” she said. “All the programs that were important in the old hospital are incorporated in the new hospital in better surroundings … much more up-to-date.” 

Here are some more scenes from Saturday's celebration:

Supervisor Norman Yee.
Members of the Medical Clown Project participated in the event.
Artwork from the hospital's Art With Elders program.
A caricaturist draws portraits.
Emily Wong, Laguna Honda health worker, holds Charlotte the chicken.
The Laguna Honda Latin Band performs.