Entrance to San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
Entrance to San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

Layoffs at SF Jewish senior home, as Covid retreats

The San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, one of the largest skilled nursing facilities in the Bay Area, has laid off 1.5 percent of its workforce — about nine employees — because of financial pressures caused by the pandemic, according to an email sent to community members on March 8.

The email, written by CEO Daniel Ruth, said that the facility faced a “confluence” of challenges, including a decline in revenues and increased costs. No frontline care staff were part of the layoffs, he reported.

During a six-week period in December and January, the SFCJL was forced to stop admissions at its skilled nursing facility because of a monthslong coronavirus outbreak that affected over 150 patients, close to half of the total resident population. This pause on admissions caused the resident count to decrease from the usual 350 residents to 247, representing a 30 percent drop.

While the facility has restarted admissions, Ruth said the SFCJL is facing “an industry-wide struggle that will take time to recover [from] in order to restore prior volumes of service.”

Daniel Ruth
Daniel Ruth

Ruth said that the Frank Residences and Byer Square, a new residential community, have been “negatively impacted” by San Francisco County’s “guidelines on restrictions and public access for all businesses and community programs.”

In addition to the drop in residents, Ruth said that the SFCJL is facing $3.6 million in additional expenses due to “unplanned costs” related to the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment, staffing, cleaning supplies and an increase in food prices.

“As an organization that has survived and thrived for 150 years, this is not the first time [we are] faced with such difficult decisions requiring great urgency, and we will once again effectuate the necessary changes to ensure our organization’s good financial standing,” Ruth wrote in the email.

The layoffs come just as the facility is recovering from the ravages of Covid-19.

Like other senior facilities across the United States, the SFCJL experienced a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases shortly after vaccinations started.

The facility, which started vaccinating its residents and staff in mid-December, has not reported a single case of coronavirus since Jan. 19, according to data from California’s Health and Human Services. Ninety-nine percent of residents and 97 percent of staff are vaccinated, according to spokesperson Marcus Young.

“We are extremely pleased to say that since late January, we have had zero cases of Covid-19 on campus or in our staff,” said Young. “We attribute this to the ongoing vaccinations of staff and residents, and the efforts put forth by our front line staff.”

The other two Bay Area Jewish senior facilities, Rhoda Goldman Plaza in San Francisco and the Reutlinger Community in Danville, told J. they’ve been able to avoid layoffs so far.

RGP executive director Ira Kurtz said in an email to J. that his facility, which includes assisted living and memory care, has “weathered the storm” financially and is experiencing “quite a few” new admissions.

Clara Allen, who recently took over on Jan. 4 as head of Reutlinger, an assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing facility, said that while admissions and move-ins have not been as “robust” during the pandemic, “fortunately we haven’t had to lay anyone off.”

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler was a staff writer at J. from 2019 to 2021.