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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pandemic Fears may Keep Hospital Open until January

SANTOS TELLS COUNCIL SUTTER WILL KEEP ER OPEN UNTIL JAN. 2010
San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos, during a city council meeting Tuesday night, said Sutter will keep emergency room services at San Leandro Hospital open until the end of January 2010 due to concerns over a possible surge in cases of the H1N1 flu.

A Sutter spokesperson told The Citizen, Wednesday morning, "No dates or announcements have been set."

During the mayor's comments at the end of the meeting, Santos told council members Sutter will announce, possibly today, they will not give notice of vacating San Leandro Hospital over concerns of the rapidly spreading pandemic, also known as the swine flu.

Earlier in the summer, Sutter announced they would cease operations on Sept. 30. That deadline was pushed to November and now may be delayed until early next year. The impetus for such an announcement may placate public concerns over the virus overrunning emergency rooms in the area. The flu bug has spread quickly across the globe and recently infected over 2,000 students returning for the Fall semester at Washington State University.

Many doctors, nurses and advocates for keeping San Leandro Hospital open have questioned the timing of closing emergency room operations at the facility when the specter of pandemic is hovering over the region.

"This is not time to close the hospital when we have a large senior population who will come down with the flu," Santos said.

During the relatively short council meeting, San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola again weighed in on the controversial "non-meeting" Sept. 3 when the Eden Township Healthcare District shutout a group of residents who support keeping the hospital open. Prola reiterated his stance that the District violated the Brown Act by barring public comment from the meeting. "It's my humble opinion they had a violation of the Brown Act. I've never seen a public meeting where you didn't have a chance to speak before closed session," he said

Santos said Tuesday night he did not attend the meeting since he was given notice the public would not be able to comment.

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