News & Politics

San Francisco Nurses Demand to Have Mark Zuckerberg's Name Taken Off Hospital 

Having your name linked to a scandal can result in some uncomfortable consequences. Case in point: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has been embroiled in controversy over his company’s data practices. Facebook recently admitted to allowing Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm, to have access to private user information in violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

Now, that chicken is coming home to roost. Nurses—both current and former—are demanding that Zuckerberg’s name be removed from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The reason? The nurses say some patients are afraid their private medical data could be leaked or sold to third parties without their permission.

In 2015 Zuckerberg and his wife Pricilla Chan donated $75 million to the hospital with the stipulation that the facility be renamed in honor of its benefactors. The hospital’s Board of Supervisors complied with the stipulation and changed the name of the hospital. Removing the Zuckerberg name could put the entire donation in jeopardy, leading some to question whether the hospital should have taken the money in the first place.

“Had we known what we know now, perhaps we wouldn’t have accepted the funds from Zuckerberg,” John Avalos, a former supervisor, told the New York Times.

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

But Brent Andrew, the hospital’s chief communications officer, sees it differently.

“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,” he said.

On Saturday about a dozen nurses demonstrated in front of the hospital, led by Sasha Cuttler, who works as a nurse there. The Times reported that Guy Vandenberg, another nurse, “came down in scrubs and on one placard wrote a diagnosis (‘malwareberg’) and on another sketched out a fake prescription: ‘Uninstall Zuckerberg.'”

According to the Times, Cuttler taped over Zuckerberg’s name on the hospital sign with blue masking tape. He posted a picture of the finished product on his Facebook page.

Posted by Sasha Cuttler on Monday, May 14, 2018

If Cuttler gets his way, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to remove the name. He asked in a Facebook post, “Can the Board of Supervisors put this on the ballot in November?”

“I think it would be better to let the voters decide it,” he wrote. “Then we can educate people about the issues.”

Cuttler wrote in another Facebook post:

Put the name of Facebook’s founder on a public hospital in spite of Facebook’s history of unauthorized interventional research. What could possibly go wrong? Last week the Chronicle reported that almost 900 SF General and Laguna Honda patients’ personal information was stolen by a contractor. If they gave $75 million to hospital would that make it okay?

Cuttler was referring to recent reports of a data breach at area hospitals, including Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. NBC Bay Area reported:

The San Francisco Department of Public Health on Friday informed 895 patients of a security breach involving personal information handled by a third-party medical transcription service. Officials added that there was no evidence that any personal information had been used for any purpose.

The transcriptions covered visits to the San Francisco Health Network, the Health Department’s system of hospitals and clinics.

Patients were seen at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital or Laguna Honda Hospital.

On social media, there have been individuals both in favor of removing the name and against it.

Cuttler vows to continue the fight to get Zuckerberg’s name removed from the hospital—ironically, by using Facebook to voice his opinion and organize activists.