A top public health official hit a six-figure salary from a struggling nonprofit

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A top Department of Public Health worker moonlights in six figures for a city-contracted drug addiction nonprofit that’s embroiled in a financial scandal and may be forced to close some of its programs.

At her day job, Lisa Pratt works as the director of the city jail’s health services, overseeing medical care for inmates. But at the same time, Pratt works 20 hours a week as the medical director of Baker Places, earning $123,000. one year in addition to his municipal compensation of $428,750. Baker Places receives most of its funding from the health department, which also employs Pratt.

Public records show Pratt working a seemingly implausible schedule: In addition to his 8-6 day job with the city, a secondary employment record shows Pratt clocking in from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. 6:30 a.m. on Sundays at Baker Places, providing advice on medical issues for the Joe Healy Detox Center.

Baker Places and its administrative arm, Positive Resource Center, run a large drug rehabilitation conglomerate totaling 215 treatment beds and nearly $70 million in contract awards this fiscal year, according to a city database. But this month, the organization reported a $4 million shortfall and threatened to close some of its programs unless the city covered the loss — a move that shocked city hall lawmakers, who had bailed out the organization a few months earlier.

Upon hearing about Pratt’s second salary, supervisor Aaron Peskin – who was skeptical of the organization’s bailout request – was furious.

“The prison health services are currently understaffed. Their employees work mandatory 12-hour shifts. It’s really bad if the head of this department has another part-time job,” Peskin said. “Shame on DPH for saying everything was fine.”

Pratt and the Department of Public Health defended the duplication agreement as legal and within city guidelines, saying Pratt did not perform work for the nonprofit while he was prison health director. According to the city’s Good Government Guide, Pratt’s side job would only present a conflict if she was working in the interests of the nonprofit during city hours.

But the arrangement raises further questions about the operations of the financially-struggling drug rehab organization – which reported the $4million shortfall just three months after receiving another emergency bailout from the city ​​- and its longstanding entanglements with local government.

“Any time there’s even a hint of impropriety, it needs to be addressed,” said Richard Greggory Johnson III, a University of San Francisco professor who specializes in nonprofit politics. “She may have done nothing wrong, but it’s definitely unethical.”

In a phone call, Pratt said her job as medical director at Baker Places amounts to being an on-call “consultant” on the weekends, during which time she makes herself available for calls and “sleeping.”[s] with his phone. Pratt started working at Baker Places in 2000 and began working for the city in 2016; she said the obligations of the two jobs align, so it didn’t occur to her that there was an appearance of conflict.

She told The Standard that she stops taking calls for the nonprofit once she arrives in town at 8 a.m., an hour and a half after she finished her guard duty at Baker. Places on Monday morning.

“I got nothing but a cost of living increase,” Pratt said of his six-figure part-time job at Joe Healy Detox, one of the programs Baker Places runs. “If I wanted to make money, I would be an orthopedic surgeon.”

Short of money

The Joe Healy Detox Center is among programs set to close this year following an abrupt declaration of insolvency by Positive Resource Center (PRC) and Baker Places this fall.

On Oct. 3, PRC Acting CEO Chuan Teng reported a six-month shortfall of $4,242,498 and said that unless the city covers these expenses, Baker Places “would not have no choice but to immediately notify staff of layoffs, halt admissions and phase out.” operations. »

But there were signs of longstanding problems at PRC and Baker Places, two separate but closely related nonprofits that announced a merger in 2016. Baker Places runs residential drug addiction and other treatment programs , while PRC provides administrative support to Baker Places, among other programs. .

At an emergency hearing in June 2022, Baker Places and PRC dropped a bombshell: they were in serious financial trouble and asked the Supervisory Board for an emergency allotment to stay solvent. The board approved a $1.2 million emergency grant, but with caveats, among other efforts to keep rehab centers afloat. These included a $1.2 million contract increase, a financial consultant hired at state expense, and deferred repayment of funds owed to the city, among other actions.

A month before that June emergency hearing, the city had awarded Baker Places a five-year, $65 million contract extension. More than a third of that funding went to the Joe Healy Detox Center, which has racked up between $750,000 and $1 million in annual debt, former Baker Places CEO Brett Andrews told a hearing in June.

In its 2017 tax return, Baker Places reported a $1.9 million deficit just over a year after receiving $15 million from the city as part of a contract extension multi-annual.

Andrews, who reportedly quit his job shortly before Teng’s Oct. 3 letter, earned $293,230 a year running drug treatment programs. Andrews also served on the Our City, Our Home Oversight Committee, a panel that advises the city on how to spend money on homelessness and mental health initiatives, until June.

When asked if the nonprofit’s financial troubles had impacted her level of service, Pratt said that “she didn’t know anything” and suggested the turmoil could be the result of the attempted merger with PRC.

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Expensive divorce

After PRC and Baker Places’ $4 million bailout request on October 3, the Department of Public Health decided to cut ties with the organization, writing in a response letter that it “strongly believes that it is in the best interests of our clients, the public, and the Baker/PRC for the City to find alternate care providers.

The department said this month that it plans to find new placements for Baker Places customers in the coming weeks – a potentially momentous task given the citywide drug crisis and shortage of behavioral health beds. The ministry has since declined to give updates on the details of that transition.

The PRC and Baker Places network of rehabilitation and behavioral health facilities includes Hummingbird Place, Hummingbird Valencia, Hummingbird General Hospital and Ferguson Place. Fourteen of Baker Places’ treatment beds were operated by the Department of Public Health until 2019, when the city “redistributed” the city-run beds to Hummingbird Place.

Matthew Wooldridge, a former patient of the Joe Healy Detox Center and three other Baker Places programs, said he felt the administration of Baker Places was not customer-friendly and noted that several of his peers are not had not completed their treatment, an event he blamed on the staff’s lack of attention.

Former Baker Places employees described a revolving door of counselors and other frontline workers who earned as little as $22.85 an hour, resulting in inconsistent care among high-risk clients.

“It was 30 days that you had with your ‘cell mates’. You get prepared meals and limited TV time,” Woolridge said of her time at the Joe Healy Detox Center. “The nurses were great themselves. … But the administration, not so much.

After speaking with The Standard, Peskin said he would immediately call the chief financial officer of the Department of Public Health about Pratt’s duplication.

“That’s about what I get,” Peskin said of Pratt’s six-figure weekend quarterback. “But I’m not allowed to sleep.”

“You would expect department heads who see hundreds of thousands of people a year to be singularly focused on that,” he continued. “This is not a janitor making ends meet, working a second job to put food on the table; it looks like an abuse of the system.

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