Dementia patient's body found in stairwell at SF General Hospital

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The body of an elderly woman was discovered Wednesday in an interior stairwell at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, the second time in five years such an event has occurred.

The woman was identified as a 76-year-old dementia patient, Ruby Lee Anderson. She was discovered at approximately 1 p.m. by a member of the hospital engineering staff, according to San Francisco Health Department spokeswoman Rachael Kagan. The stairwell is in the power plant building, which is not generally used by patients.

An autopsy was pending.

Kagan earlier had said at a news conference that she did not know how the woman gained access to the building. Kagan said the woman was not a patient at San Francisco General but noted that there were other facilities on the same campus operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. They include the 47-bed Mental Health Rehabilitation Center.

The case is being investigated by the Department of Public Health, San Francisco Sheriff and San Francisco Police Department. Investigators are looking at surveillance video for information. 


This is the second time a body was found in the stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital. The body of patient Lynn Spalding was found in a stairwell on October, 8, 2013, 17 days after she was reported missing.  Spalding, 57, was admitted to the hospital on September 19, 2013 with a bladder infection. She went missing on September 21, 2013. 

Spalding's family filed a claim against  hospital and the Sheriff’s Department, which provides security at San Francisco General, for multiple failures related to her care and the search for her after she vanished.

San Francisco and the University of California agreed to pay Spalding's family a $3 million settlement in December 2014. 

"That was a terrible tragedy. We've made many, many changes since that time and we have no reason to believe that this case and that case are connected, but we don't know very much about this situation yet," Kagan said.

Bay City News Services and Associated Press contributed to this report