SAN FRANCISCO -- City officials are outraged that an AIDS patient was flown cross-country against his will and 'dumped' at a San Francisco hospital because no Florida hospitals would accept him.
Florida should, at the very least, help pay for his care, they said.
Dr. Mervyn Silverman, San Francisco's public health director, said Tuesday he was shocked that Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., spent $7,000 for a Lear jet to fly Morgan MacDonald, 27, to San Francisco last week and leave him on a stretcher at an AIDS research foundation with $300 pocket money.
Silverman said it was costing the city at least $500 a day to care for MacDonald at San Francisco General Hospital's special AIDS ward. The facility is the only one of its kind to treat victims of the deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome. MacDonald was in poor but stable condition today.
'I certainly would hope that the state of Florida or the hospital - I'm not sure which -- would reimburse San Francisco for the care we are providing,' Silverman said.
He said MacDonald told him he was transported to the West Coast against his will. He was accompanied by a physician, a social worker and a nurse.
Silverman said MacDonald was free to return to Florida, but said his condition was acute and it was essential that he receive proper care.
'We're in the health business, not the transportation business,' Silverman said. 'We can't forget that here's an individual in an extreme condition. To be moved about like this is tragic.'
In Florida, Gov. Bob Graham's press secretary said the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services was asked to investigate the matter.
Mayor Dianne Feinstein telegraphed Graham last Saturday to demand an investigation of why MacDonald was 'dumped' in San Francisco. She called the incident 'outrageous and inhumane.'
Danny Pietrodangelo, spokesman for the Florida health department, said the MacDonald case was indicative of the growing fear by health workers of contracting AIDS.
The disease cripples the body's natural immune system, leaving its victims susceptible to cancer and a host of other illnesses. There is no known cure.
Virginia Hunt, a spokeswoman for Shands Hospital, said the hospital wanted to get MacDonald into a good out-patient program but could not find a facility in Florida that would take him.
Silverman said although San Francisco is serving as a model for AIDS treatment and research, with $4 million in city money already involved, he did not consider the city to be a recipient for AIDS patients nationwide.
'The money we're spending is to take care of the people of San Francisco,' he said. 'The federal government isn't paying for this care.'