Saturday, August 22, 2009

Q&A with Sutter VP of Communication Bill Gleeson

The lease between Sutter and the Alameda County Medical Center was signed Aug. 3, why wait until Aug. 19 to announce it? There is a perception in the community that Sutter is not being transparent about its actions. How does Sutter respond?
It wouldn’t have been appropriate for Sutter Health to announce the lease while the other public entities, including Alameda County Medical Center, were conducting their internal processes.

If Sutter believes the Eden Township Healthcare District no longer has authority over your plans for San Leandro Hospital, why does Sutter continue to participate in their dealings?
We haven’t. The District board has yet to convey the hospital to us following our exercise of the option to purchase. We continue to abide by the requirements in all of the agreements; if this involves a mediation process, we will do so.

In regards to the Health & Safety code 32123 cited by Sen. Corbett, could you explain Sutter's position, apparently, that the transaction is less than 50 percent of ETHD assets?
The option for Sutter Health to purchase San Leandro Hospital was agreed to by the District in 2008. We believe that the District complied with applicable law with regard to this agreement.

The plan laid out by ACMC for SLH is exactly the same as 6 months ago. This plan has been Sutter, ACMC and Health Services favored option. In a sense, we are at square one. The community has been vehement in its desire to keep the ER open. Is Sutter disregarding the wishes of the community?

We have determined, as have the District and Alameda County Medical Center, independently of Sutter Health and Eden Medical Center, that continuation of the current services including the Emergency Department would require an annual subsidy exceeding $5 million. Our investment now exceeds $30 million over five years. The status quo is not sustainable without a subsidy.

Perhaps the best and most accurate gauge of the community’s wishes is the actual utilization of San Leandro Hospital’s services. San Leandro Hospital is under-utilized by the San Leandro community, and the majority of visits to the San Leandro Hospital ER can be accommodated by urgent care services. Eden Medical Center maintains a full-service ER just a few miles away. Sutter Health considered public input as well as the community’s actual hospital utilization.

Legality aside, how do you explain to the public Sutter has leased a community asset to another entity when it is unclear whether they own said property. I'm not looking for a legal answer such as Article V of the Memorandum of Understanding gives you the authority.
Our lease of the property to Alameda County Medical Center is conditioned upon its acquisition from the District. The lease with Alameda County Medical Center does not begin until we have acquired the property from the District.


Triad Healthcare ran San Leandro Hospital profitably and expanded services before Sutter took over operations. Prime Healthcare has put forward an official proposal to the Healthcare District to offer full services, and obviously expects that they could run the hospital at a profit. These facts, taken together, prove that Sutter's claim that SLH cannot continue full services without a large subsidy is false. Sutter has intentionally operated SLH poorly, and is likely misreporting its finances in a number of ways, including "cooking the books" by transfering SLH revenue directly to the Sutter Health corporation. They have taken similar action at other hospitals they wished to close (San Francisco, Santa Rosa, others).

Bill Gleeson's shameful misinfomation on Sutter Health's behalf reaches its zenith in his statement that "SLH is underutilized". Despite intentionally running the hospital poorly for years and offering incentives to send business to Sutter's other hospitals in the County, SLH saw over 25,000 patients in its Emergency Department last year, and had nearly 20,000 Inpatient days in 2008. Over 10,000 ER patients from 2008 were too ill to recieve adequate care in ACMC's proposed Urgent Care clinic. Last year, over 1,300 patients were treated for critical conditions in SLH's ER; a god portion of those patients would die due to the 5 to 20 minutes of transport time to the next closest avaliable ER.

Sutter wants to increase its operating profit in the region, and is willing to create needless deaths an suffering in order to make that happen. Rarely are issues of such a profound nature this clear, but this one is.

Post a Comment