HEALTHCARE PROVIDER SAYS IT SPENT $667 IN 'COMMUNITY BENEFITS'Sutter Health, the operator of San Leandro Hospital and Eden Medical Center, posted net earnings of $697 million in 2009.
The healthcare provider's net income surged from a reported $187 million in 2008, according to Sutter. "The market recovery in 2009, combined with our prudent investment strategies, resulted in a sizable gain from investments," the President and CEO of Sutter Pat Fry said on the company's web site.
Sutter also reported an investment of $667 million in community benefits, primarily to cover the costs of health care to uninsured and indigent patients throughout its network of Northern California hospitals. More than half of the outlay came from unpaid costs from Medi-Cal, while $108 million came in the form of traditional charity care, according to the financial statement. (Read it here.)
Sutter and some Alameda County officials peg the low census of insured patients at San Leandro Hospital as one of the factors debilitating the hospital's ability to be profitable. Sutter could announce the fate of San Leandro Hospital as early as next week.
Critics of Sutter allege the closing of an hospital in San Leandro at the same time as the $300 million reconstruction of Eden proceeds has overtones of "medical redlining" since residents in Castro Valley and the surrounding Dublin/Pleasanton corridor draw more affluent, "paying" customers rather the low-income patients drawn from San Leandro and Oakland.
Supporters of keeping the hospital and its emergency room in operation have also criticized Sutter for not subsidizing San Leandro Hospital with profits from elsewhere in its system. Last year, Sutter transferred $88 million from its profitable operations in Marin County before its lease expired and without the knowledge of the local healthcare district. The action caught the attention of its Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who joined state Sen. Ellen Corbett and others in asking the state attorney general's office to investigate Sutter's business practices.
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