SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's sheriff apologized for his department's slow and incomplete search for a missing San Francisco woman whose body was found in a San Francisco General Hospital stairwell.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Wednesday said it took his department nine days after Lynn Spalding was initially reported missing from her hospital room to conduct a hospital-wide search for the 57-year-old patient, who disappeared Sept. 21.

Mirkarimi says deputies started the search on Sept. 30, but only checked about half the facility's stairwells.

Four days later, a hospital staff member told the sheriff's department that someone had reported seeing a body in a locked stairwell of the building where Spalding had been a patient.

Mirkarimi says a dispatcher told hospital officials the department would respond, but there was no indication anyone ever did.

A hospital engineer found Spalding's body on Oct. 8.