Scenes from Ward 5b/5a

Ward 5a nurse William Nelson talks with Shanti hospital counselor manager Linda Maxey
Photography Courtesy of San Francisco Public Library.

In 1983, San Francisco General Hospital’s inpatient AIDS unit, Ward 5a, opened its doors to patients with AIDS and their loved ones. Clifford Morrison, the nurse manager who organized the unit, had taken a Shanti volunteer training and when it came time to set up staff for 5a he contacted Shanti and Linda Maxey, specifically, who had been his trainer. The original staff of Ward 5a consisted of nurses, one social worker, and three shanti counselors. By 1986, Ward 5a would expand from the twelve bed unit to the twenty bed unit Ward 5b where it would provide its services to people with AIDS/HIV until the early 2000s. Shanti counselor’s worked closely with the nurses and social workers on staff. They took part in rounds and helped with discharge planning; as well as case presentations. Shanti counselors also offered emotional support services to their fellow staff members, patients on the ward, their family members, and friends. Shanti was the first outside community organization to be formally working in SF General Hospital while still retaining its own independent organizational identity. Shanti counselors would serve on staff of the AIDS ward from 1983 until 1995.

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