OHNS at ZSFG: A Closer Look at Our Work at the Level 1 Trauma Center

July 26, 2022
Patricia Loftus, MD

One of the places where our team works is the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG), a level 1 trauma center that is part of the San Francisco Health Network. Members of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF OHNS) provide inpatient, outpatient, emergency and diagnostic services for adults and children.

ZSFG serves any person within San Francisco, regardless of their ability to pay or their immigration status. This may include people who have public insurance, people who have immigrated from other countries, people who are homeless, people without insurance, and people with private insurance who experience a severe trauma (such as a bad car accident) and need trauma services.  Our hospital serves as our community's safety net hospital, providing care to those who otherwise might not be able access it.

"Everyone deserves equal access to top notch healthcare," says UCSF OHNS's Patricia Loftus, MD, Interim Chief of OHNS at ZSFG and an Associate Professor in the Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery division. "Patients put their faith in us that we will provide them the best care possible, and we take that very seriously and make sure they get the care they deserve. And because of our partnership with UCSF Health, our patients have access to the wide range of knowledge and services at UCSF if they are not available on our campus."

The OHNS providers see many of the same conditions as providers at UCSF Health, but sometimes the diseases may be more advanced at presentation in patients who were delayed in seeking care due to personal or financial reasons. Dr. Loftus says she sees a lot of patients requiring surgery for chronic ear conditions that may not have been so progressed had the patient sought care sooner.

Because ZSFG is a level 1 trauma center, providers never know what will walk through the door resulting in an emergent response.

Dr. Loftus noted that providers may be called from the clinic to the operating room for an airway emergency in a trauma patient, where OHNS will "work together with the Trauma, General Surgery, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Interventional Radiology, Cardiothoracic (and the list goes on) Services to help save the patient's life," says Dr. Loftus. "This patient-centered approach in a smaller healthcare system (as compared to UCSF) builds a true comradery with your colleagues and staff."

The patient centricity at ZSFG also makes it a good place to conduct research. The patients, who are often very grateful for the care they received, are eager to participate in projects that will help benefit themselves and others like them. This population pool also gives researchers an opportunity to learn about underserved populations and how to improve their quality of life related to their health.

Dr. Loftus likes working at ZSFG for two main reasons: "The amazing, grateful patients and the comradery that follows from all the staff working towards one main goal — excellent care of our underserved population."

To learn more about the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, visit the website.