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The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

San Francisco Hires 100 Public Health Workers Under Streamlined Hiring Process

As part of the Emergency Declaration in the Tenderloin, the City has filled 100 of the 200 open public health staff positions within two months compared to the traditional six months-long process

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) today announced that the expedited effort to hire behavioral health staff as part of the 90-day Emergency Declaration in the Tenderloin is more than 50% complete with 100 public health staff onboarded and a remaining 100 staff on track to meet the March hiring deadline.

SFDPH and DHR initiated the hiring under the State of Emergency in the Tenderloin, which Mayor Breed declared in December 2021 to address the crisis of people dying of drug overdoses in the neighborhood. As part of the emergency powers, SFDPH and DHR are streamlining administrative aspects of the City’s hiring process in order to quickly fill vacancies and new positions while adhering to competitive, fair, and equity-based selection processes. Without the Emergency Declaration, hiring 200 behavioral health workers under the City’s current hiring process would take at least six months, instead of less than three.

“As we continue to move forward with our emergency response and our efforts to address the public health crisis in the Tenderloin, it is critical to have the necessary staffing in place to provide people with the immediate support they need,” said Mayor Breed. “The expedited hiring of these behavioral health workers is proof that when we cut through bureaucracy and aggressively address our City’s most pressing needs, we can make real, tangible change and deliver services faster. I want to thank everyone at the Department of Public Health and Department of Human Resources for their work and steadfast commitment to ensuring that we meet our targeted goals.”

“For years DPH has had hundreds of funded but unfilled positions in the Department,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “The biggest challenge to implementing Mental Health SF has been the limited clinical staff to run all parts of the system of care. Thanks to the Emergency Declaration in the Tenderloin, we will save years of red tape and have the team in place that we need to get individuals off the streets and into the proper level of care to treat their mental illness and addiction.”

The 200 positions include behavioral health clinicians, pharmacists, health workers, and others who can build out the programs and services needed to expand the City’s behavioral health services and enact the vision of Mental Health SF. The MHSF initiative expands access to mental health services, substance use treatment, and psychiatric medications to all adult San Franciscans with mental illness and/or substance abuse challenges who are homeless, uninsured, or enrolled in Medi-Cal or Healthy San Francisco. The implementation of MHSF is directly linked to improving health outcomes in the Tenderloin, where clients are disproportionately located.

“Throughout the past two years, San Francisco has faced two unprecedented and overlapping public health emergencies, the COVID-19 pandemic and the drug overdose epidemic. Even as our resources have expanded to address our City’s behavioral health needs, our staff has been stretched,” said Director of Health, Dr. Grant Colfax. “Filling vacant positions and promoting and retaining our excellent staff allows us to deliver the excellent care and services the people of the Tenderloin neighborhood need and deserve.”

“Through the emergency supplement we have been able to expedite the hiring of the critical staff needed to support the quality-of-life operation happening in the Tenderloin neighborhood and help prevent people from needlessly dying from drug overdoses, said Carol Isen, Human Resources Director, “by working closely with the Department of Public Health we were able to hire much needed staff while maintaining equity and fairness in the hiring process.”

Early in the pandemic, similar practices were put in place under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, which allowed for the hiring of approximately 200 nurses within 45 days or less.