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SF public health official resigns from unauthorized nonprofit gig

A screenshot from a Facebook Live event hosted by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office between Chesa Boudin (not pictured) and San Francisco Jail Health Director Dr. Lisa Pratt on Feb. 10, 2021.

Lisa Pratt, SF’s director of jail health services, has resigned from her unauthorized side job with a city-funded nonprofit after her dual employment was revealed earlier this week.

Pratt’s side job with Baker Places, a financially troubled drug rehab nonprofit, was first reported by The Standard after the organization declared insolvency and asked the city for a $4 million bailout earlier this fall.

Pratt, a top Department of Public Health employee who oversees health care for jail inmates, was making $123,000 a year working as an on-call “consultant” for Baker Places on top of her $428,750 city compensation, and never received city approval for the work.  

City employees are required to get approval for secondary employment annually to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest or other interference with their main work.

Pratt and the Department of Public Health initially defended the dual employment arrangement as legal and consistent with city guidelines, asserting that she had received approval for the side gig.

But that claim was later rebuked by the city's Human Resources department, which released a statement saying, "we do not have record of an approved request for this employee."

Pratt has worked for the city since 2016 and attempted to file for secondary employment at Baker Places in 2019, three years after she started working for the city. But the request was never approved after Human Resources questioned her work schedule.

Baker Places and its administrative arm, Positive Resource Center (PRC), together run 215 addiction and behavioral health treatment beds across several sites, including Joe Healy Detox center, Hummingbird Valencia, Ferguson Place and others.

The dual employment raised serious ethical and financial questions in light of the nonprofits' financial distress, which came to light earlier this summer. Baker Places and PRC hold close to $70 million in city contract awards this fiscal year.

In June, the organizations said they were on the verge of insolvency and asked the Board of Supervisors for an emergency bailout. Despite consternation, the board approved a $1.2 million emergency award intended to keep the organizations afloat, among other efforts such as a city-funded financial consultant.

City Hall legislators were infuriated when, only three months later, the organizations again asked for an emergency bailout of $4 million. The Department of Public Health moved to cut ties, saying that it planned to find alternate placements for the nonprofits' clients.

In an Oct. 3 letter, Chuan Teng, interim CEO of PRC, identified four detox or treatment sites that were likely on the chopping block. Those included Acceptance Place, Ferguson Place, Assisted Independent Living Program and Joe Healy Detox, where Pratt worked part-time as a consultant.

David Sjostedt can be reached at