It was a moral imperative.
I came to the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation one year ago—in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a national reckoning with systemic racism, and an economic depression that laid bare the inequities so many in our community face. For me, the call to lead the Foundation was an opportunity to connect to my father’s lifetime of service as an immigrant physician providing health care to those in need, and at the same time, serve my own community. There was important urgency to the work Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and the Foundation were doing together during an unprecedented moment in time.
One year later, I am exceedingly proud of the way that our Hospital team stepped up to manage a global health crisis, unlike anything we have ever experienced. And San Francisco led by wearing masks and listening to the science. Today, with case rates hovering around zero at ZSFG and vaccination rates exceeding 70% of the eligible population, the sense of hope and relief among our staff and patients is palpable. But the work is far from done.
Our public hospital is essential to the health of our City.
As we all begin to look ahead to recovery, it remains clear to me that the challenges we will face as we emerge from the most dangerous period of the COVID pandemic deserve the same leadership and commitment with which we met the threat of the coronavirus. Our lives are inextricably intertwined and our health depends on the health of our neighbors.
It is clear the impact of San Francisco’s investment in a modern public hospital was pivotal, allowing the frontline workers at ZSFG to care for 30% of COVID cases in the city and to keep San Francisco’s COVID mortality rate lower than any other major American city. ZSFG was at the forefront of testing, medical trials, treatment, and vaccinations, all while keeping its doors open for both moments of crisis and everyday health and wellness.
We know that a strong public health system saved countless lives, and we must continue to invest in equitable health care for the future of our city. The Foundation was able to move quickly last year with your help, raising $5 million to support immediate demands around PPE and COVID response at a moment of dire need, while also enabling the hospital to revolutionize its model of care through telehealth, reaching over 35,000 patients this past year.
There is still much to do.
We now have the opportunity to build on this momentum and continue to innovate on how we provide public health, transforming the way we approach mental and behavioral health, set families and children up for healthy beginnings, provide the very best in trauma care, and help patients get well and stay well.
Moments of crisis give way to opportunities for transformational change. If ever there was a moment for big change, this is it. The deep and enduring effects of racism and poverty are as clear and present in the day-to-day workings of a public hospital as anywhere else in our society. As we emerge from this pandemic, the call to action for health equity lives and breathes in those who survived COVID, often to struggle in its aftermath. The need for change—deep and enduring change—is undeniable.
And so, after one year, I am more grateful and more motivated than ever to tackle these seemingly intractable challenges. Everything we do at the Foundation is in service to the belief that everyone deserves access to exceptional health care. Through the greatest health, economic, and social crisis of our lifetimes, we have supported and funded excellence in patient care and innovation at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, ensuring health equity, access, and quality health care for all.
Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime.
With tremendous gratitude,
CEO, San Francisco General Hospital Foundation