Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

DPH in talks with
Maitri for clinic space


Maitri Executive Director Michael Smithwick
Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
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San Francisco's Maitri hospice has been exploring with the city's health department the idea of it taking over clinic space at the nonprofit.

The location, at 100 Church Street, was recently vacated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which had run a pharmacy and Out of the Closet thrift store there until becoming embroiled in rent-related lawsuits. Maitri, which provides 24-hour residential care to people living with AIDS, owns the building. Settlement agreements have been reached in both cases.

In a recent interview, San Francisco Health Director Barbara Garcia said the agency was possibly interested in opening a primary care clinic in the space.

"We have been exploring it. It is not a done deal," she said. "Conversations are still going on."

The health department is exploring whether to expand its primary care services in the city's gay Castro district. Establishing a clinic in the area could provide services to people enrolled in the city's Healthy San Francisco affordable insurance program or those on Medi-Cal, the publicly subsidized health insurance program for low-income people overseen by the state.

"The question is still out on whether or not we have enough patients to fill that goal," said Garcia.

Maitri officials approached the health department this fall about taking over the former AHF clinic since it is already built out and would not require much structural work to prepare the space.

"There was already a clinic there so it is a turnkey space. We would not have to spend a lot of capital dollars on it," said Garcia.

Yet Garcia stressed the department is not ready to commit at this time and has encouraged the hospice officials to talk with other health care providers that are also looking to expand.

"We have had some conversations but have not signed on the dotted line," she said. "They are looking to other people to see if other people are ready to do it today. We haven't signed any lease today."

In an email November 25, Maitri Executive Director Michael Smithwick said, "I can confirm that we have been in preliminary discussion" with Garcia and other health department staff "regarding their interest in potentially renting all or a portion of the 7,400 square foot ground floor commercial space ... . I can also confirm that we are in discussion with other prospective future tenants interested in that space as well."

Smithwick said he couldn't provide more information but "I expect to be able to share more openly with you in early December."


Lawsuits settled

Maitri filed an unlawful detainer complaint against AHF, which is based in Los Angeles, in June, claiming that the foundation didn't pay rent from September 2013 to just days before the lawsuit was filed.

In a response filed in September, AHF said it paid about $184,000 due in rent June 24, a figure almost $80,000 lower than what Maitri said it was owed. The settlement was filed in San Francisco Superior Court in October.

Another lawsuit in which Maitri makes similar rent claims against AHF settled in November.

Smithwick has declined to share details on the settlements.

In a November 21 email, he said, "While we have reached a settlement agreement," in the lawsuit settled that month, "the final written agreement has not yet been signed ... so I'm going to need to refrain from any public comment at this time related to the space or the settlement associated with it."

Dale Gluth, AHF's Bay Area regional director, said Tuesday, "I can tell you we did settle, but that's all I can tell you."

Besides the former Church Street pharmacy, AHF also has another pharmacy on 18th Street in the Castro. The foundation has moved the Church Street pharmacy to the 18th Street location, and it's opened an HIV treatment center at 518 Castro Street.

AHF has sued the city and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener over whether that location should be subject to formula retail rules. The lawsuit is pending.


Matthew S. Bajko contributed to this report.

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