California

Patients fear confiding in doctors at S.F. hospital named for Zuckerberg, nurses say

Chief of staff Dr. Jim Marks looks over the new lobby of the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center in 2015. Some nurses at the facility are lobbying to restore the original name of the hospital, citing privacy fears by patients.
Chief of staff Dr. Jim Marks looks over the new lobby of the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center in 2015. Some nurses at the facility are lobbying to restore the original name of the hospital, citing privacy fears by patients. The Associated Press file

Nurses say patients at a San Francisco hospital renamed in 2015 for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife fear for their privacy given recent data breaches and security scandals on the social media platform.

“I know people who go to the doctor and they're afraid to tell the doctor what's going on because they don't know who is going to get that information," nurse Sasha Cuttler told KGO.

Protests by some nurses at the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center seek to have the hospital revert to its original name, the station reported.

"We are extremely grateful for the generous gift from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, which has been put to good use in serving the healthcare needs of our community, including the creation of our state of the art Level 1 trauma center," responded the hospital in a statement. "Our most important commitment is to our patients, which includes strict adherence to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules which require the protection and confidential handling of protected health information."

San Francisco General Hospital was renamed in 2015 by county supervisors after Zuckerberg and Chan, a pediatrician, donated $75 million to the 147-year-old institution, reported Business Insider.

The move sparked immediate opposition by a union including nurses, which argued San Francisco residents should have a say in the name, according to the publication.

Recent scandals involving Facebook, such as data breaches involving affiliate Cambridge Analytica, have reignited the protests, reported The New York Times.

“We are in charge of keeping our most vulnerable people private and protected,” Heather Ali, a nursing administration employee, told the publication “Now people wonder, ‘How much is my privacy protected at a hospital with that name on it?’ ”

Hospital officials told the Times that renaming the hospital was one of the conditions of the $75 million gift accepted by San Francisco County supervisors in 2015.

“Look it’s a double-edged sword, and I totally get the loyalty to the name as it was historically, but this is a thing that’s between the donors and the Board of Supervisors completely,” Brent Andrew, the hospital’s chief communications officer, told the Times.

John Avalos, a former county supervisor, told KPIX he had some regrets about renaming the hospital.

“I regretted it the moment I voted on it,” he told the station. “But I also understood that if I were to vote against it, we would lose $75 million to open the hospital up.”

The Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a hearing on April 10. Sen. Diane Feinstein questioned Zuckerberg on Facebook’s efforts to prevent foreign interference in elections.

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