By STEVEN TAVARESDr. Walter Kran's sudden resignation from the Eden Township Healthcare District was a solution to withdraw from the constant crossfire of pressure from Sutter Health and supporters of keeping San Leandro Hospital open.
Scant pieces of information are known about Kran's mindset when he submitted his resignation Sept. 23--the same day the District hastily cancelled a scheduled board meeting. The District's web site posted a notice for Kran's open seat and lists his resignation effective Sept. 28. District CEO Dev Mahadevan says state law allows for the day the resignation was received as the official date.
Board member Dr. Vin Sawhney said on numerous occasions he as attempted to reach Kran at his home without success. He believes Kran is currently in Cleveland for two weeks.
Both Mahadevan and Sawhney describe their former board member as being stressed by the pressure he was receiving from both sides of the hospital issue, notably Sutter and advocates hoping to keep the hospital open, including the California Nurses Association (CNA). "I think he was stressed out by the pull from both sides," said Sawhney. "I believe it may have been disturbing his personal life."
Mahadevan says Kran was receiving up to 50 calls a day, mostly from citizens urging him to save the hospital. He recalls once instance when Kran sat silent on the phone as a representative from CNA rattled of the reasons why he should vote a certain way. "I think he felt caught pushing for something he didn't believe in," Mahadevan said.
Although many viewed his voting history skewed towards Sutter's favor, eyewitness accounts of his demeanor during meetings indicated his discomfort of being at the receiving end of constant vitriol from public speakers. Sawhney says Kran had voiced displeasure with serving on the board under these conditions as far back as May when the issue gained the attention of a larger audience.
The aftermath of Kran's departure has all the signs of being as rocky as the past few months have been for the Distict. A public notice was posted last Friday for the open position. Mahadevan says he has not received any calls on the vacancy, although in his experience, they tend to express interest at the last moments. He expressed hope the District will be able to attract a diverse group of candidates for the job and joked, "I wouldn't want a bunch of old guys like myself running it all."
One potential name continually discussed is former board member Dr. Francisco Rico. Observers call Rico "Sutter's dream candidate." During his tenure, Rico was a driving force in pushing through the controversial 2007 Memorandum of Understanding, which current member Carole Rogers believes may be legally dubious. In the past month, emails from Rico have surfaced detailing Sutter "talking points" in favor of closing San Leandro Hospital. "There would be those who say he deserves it as the third highest vote-getter," Mahadevan said. "Others would say no, he was already defeated."
If the District is unable to select a replacement for Kran's seat after 60 days, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors would inherit the issue. If they too are unable to come to a decision after 30 days, a special election would determine Kran's interim replacement. With Sutter determined to reach a quick conclusion to the hospital debate, a costly election would be unlikely. In the meantime, Mahadevan says no special meeting is scheduled for this month and the Oct. 28 meeting is also in the air. After numerous recent meetings in San Leandro and Castro Valley, the District is seeking a venue in Hayward.
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