Resolution: 09-05

Approving The Homeless Death Count Form To Be Filed At The Time Of Registration Of The Death Certificate With Vital Statistics

WHEREAS, since 1987 the San Francisco homeless advocacy and faith community have kept count of the individuals who died homeless in San Francisco each year; and,

WHEREAS, the City and County of San Francisco believes that it is a humane and worthwhile activity to honor the homeless who die each year by name; and,

WHEREAS, Beginning in 1992, the Department of Public Health worked with the Medical Examiner (M.E.) and with the faith community and homeless advocates to review the Medical Examiner’s records to ascertain how many individuals had died without a fixed address in an attempt to get a more realistic count of homeless deaths; and,

WHEREAS, two laws have gone into effect that greatly restrict access to health related records, the first is the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 which governs rules and regulations pertaining to patient confidentiality; and

WHEREAS, Senator Jackie Speier sponsored SB 247 passed in 2002 which controls the release of and access to birth and death records and is intended to reduce identity theft; and,

WHEREAS, the Department of Public Health is no longer allowed to release the names of decedents because of the above confidentiality statutes unless the deceased is known by the requester by name and in this case, the State requires a $13 fee be paid for each record search by name; and,

WHEREAS, in addition, there are severe restrictions on the release of comprehensive death indices to the public; and,

WHEREAS, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed two resolutions in December 2004 urging the Health Department to resume the annual homeless death count; and,

WHEREAS, Supervisor Dufty formed a working group to determine a feasible means to allow the City to continue the annual count; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation June 14, 2005 mandating the development of a “Homeless Death Count Form” to be filed at the time of registering the death certificate with the Health Department; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors legislation calls upon the Health Department to create the form and the Health Commission to approve the Homeless Death Count Form; and

WHEREAS, the form is in compliance with HIPAA and the form contains no information that could reasonably be used to commit identity theft; and,

WHEREAS, Supervisor Dufty's Ordinance states that "before being granted access to Homeless Death Forms filed with the San Francisco Health Department or the information contained therein, members of the public must first sign a statement under penalty of perjury that they will not use the Homeless Death Forms or the information contained therein for fraudulent purposes"; and,

WHEREAS, use of the form will make the task of counting homeless deaths possible and will allow the community to honor those who have died homeless; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that San Francisco Health Commission does hereby approve the Homeless Death Count Form.

I hereby certify that the San Francisco Health Commission at its meeting of June 21, 2005 adopted the foregoing resolution.

Michele M. Seaton, Executive Secretary to the Health Commission