Friday, January 14, 2011

Judge Denies Healthcare District’s Writ Of Mandate

By Steven Tavares

A California Appellate Court judge has denied the Eden Township Healthcare District’s writ of mandate regarding its countersuit against Sutter Health. The suit alleges a conflict of interest over negotiations in 2008 that led to the reconstruction of Eden Medical Center and the unknown fate of San Leandro Hospital.

The ruling by the First Appellate District on Tuesday could mean dire consequences for the fate of San Leandro Hospital. The healthcare district’s appeal came after an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled against its countersuit versus Sutter last November. The Board of Directors voted to appeal the decision a few days later. The District's filing of a writ of mandate is intending to the ask the appellate court to remedy any errors it alleges are contained in the Superior Court ruling.

Sutter had previously been successful in the courts last when a judge granted the Sacramento-based health provider the deed to San Leandro Hospital. Contained in the controversial 2008 memorandum of understanding was a provision allowing Sutter the right to purchase the property, which they invoked in 2009 and led to a spate of legal showdowns between it and the Eden Township.

The long, vociferous fight waged by local activists, nurses and doctors to save the community option may be running out of viable options after the appellate ruling. There have been reports from various employees of the hospital they were notified the hospital would stay open until at least June. Sutter already has an agreement with the Alameda County Medical Center to repurpose San Leandro Hospital into an acute rehabilitation center, replacing the seismically-deficient Fairmont Hospital.


NOTE: A clarification including writ of mandate and definition was made to this article.

POLITICS HOMEGROWN http://www.eastbaycitizen.com/


Thank goodness this money squandering effort is nearly over. The voters should all remember the partisans in support of this failed action. Voting for them is to reinforce the notion that lawyers should make money whether they win or lose, the issue is to sue. The judges and their fourth estate devotees fan the artificial flames of discontent and the only folks that lose are the victims and residents. Mel

"The judges and their fourth estate devotees fan the artificial flames of discontent and the only folks that lose are the victims and residents."
Could you expound on/translate this part for us simple minds, Mel? Please?

Dear Doug Jones,
We have not heard from you lately. Writer's cramp? Carpal tunnel syndrome? Looks like the big downtown law firm is consistently losing in court but making out like bandits on their bottom line, complements of the District leadership and the public.

Milo, the lawsuit against Sutter by Eden Healthcare should never have happened. It occurred because local judges and the local press have talked and talked and talked about the worth of the suit and the expenditure of well over one million dollars. The case never had merit and the appeals have been nothing more than a way to continue to add to the lawyers. The press, particularly partisans such as Steve and Nick have long fanned the flames that should have gone out. Their constant work has bled into the late lamented Alice Lai-Bitker and her influential husband Steve. There has long been talk and allegations of wrong doing and nothing has been proven. This should never have happened. Just think what could have been done for indigents with a million dollars plus. The cabal of judges, lawyers, print press, broadcasters and radio have tried to manufacture a crime and continue to make money. They are all as culpable as the bankers and the realtors who created the real estate collapse.

Thje real crime is the loss of the million dollars. No one is screaming about that. What a travesty. Mel

Actually, the total tab for legal expenses for the District is about $2 million. You can confirm this by attending the District board's meeting Jan 19 where the current financials will be publicly reported. The District was advised by their own long time counsel that they did NOT have a case but they rejected his advice, fired him, went lawyer shopping until they heard what they wanted to hear. Ask yourself if the lawyers they hired had any incentive to encourage the District to proceed with legal action.

Frank, thank you for the revised information on the costs of this unprecedented financial rape of the public and Eden Healthcare District in particular. Are you inferring that the district lawyers sought to squeeze as much money as possible out of the district? Shame shame shame. Is there no honor among lawyers? Not. Everyone connected with allowing this encrichment process to continue should be investigated for malfeasance, conspiracy, or at the least for failure to operate in an ethical manner.

Oh and for you Steve and Nick, shame on your for your complicity in fanning the discontent for money and fame. But then you never figured it out anyway. Mel.

The writ of mandate does not eliminate an appeal to the same Appeals court. Sutter Health has promised to keep San Leandro Hospital open as long as there is a law suit in progress. And this can take years! As far as the Sutter paid naysayers above, the community is in favor of keeping the hospital open as it is, at whatever the cost.

If you had an heart attack and lived in San Leandro, and minutes count, would you want to be taken to the nearest hospital? What is your life worth? Or your mother's, father's, grandparents? I applaud the District's leadership and courage!

I hope it's over. It's been a waste of taxpayer money and appealing it further would be ridiculous, and a decision only those with a grueling level of self-interest would chose. BTW: while we're talking about our ire for "everyone connected with allowing this enrichment process" -- can we add District members who don't even live in the District anymore? Anna
P.S. I live in San Leandro and if I have a heart attack I want to go to Eden Medical Center.

Well Mel, Rico, and Anna whoever she is, I guess you guys didnt pass the Bar exam, do any of you actually know what a Writ of Mandate is, lets just save some time and energy and say no you all are just plain ignorant about law language. I hate to burst your bubble of ignorance but it looks like the hospital will be here for some time to come, and contrary to what your little minds assume this writ has not stopped the process of appeal and Rico as for the amount I give you the benefit of doubt about the amount, but I also wonder how much is a life worth since the three of you seem to have a price tag for a life. Are the three of you also aware especially since the events of the past couple of weeks, which hospital is earthquake ready right now, well let me educate you it is not Eden, it is the hospital you would like to close,these quakes are slowly making their way to our Bay Area, and if they should come now, where would you go, to a hospital that could stay up or one that would collapse. And why would you want to displace about 500 Hospital workers with the unemployment rate almost 10 percent, or is 10 percent your goal, maybe your job is secure and you dont give a damn about anyone else, well these people have families and homes and I guess you would like to see that cease, and they are in their ocupations because they do care about others even the three of you would get care if you should ever need it. So maybe instead of you bellyaching about the cost, just think of the cost when we all go on unemployment who do you think will be paying that. Wake up and think about the well being of not only you and your wallets but your friends and neighbors. As Always Papa John

Dear Papa John,
I passed the bar exam on my first attempt and I am still an active member of the bar, #77895! As for putting a price on a life let me remind you that there is no free lunch. I don't see the employees at SLH lining up to work for nothing "to save lives." The fact is that labor is the number one cost of operating a hospital and if they took a 10% cut SLH would break even. Then if the GI endoscopy that Director Sahwney diverts from the hospital to his own private endoscopy center in Hayward, SLH would show a profit and could remain in operation. Simple arithmetic!

To Jan 16 gutless anonymous: With respect to your groundless and scurrilous charge "as for Sutter paid naysayers;" I am not now nor have I ever been paid anything by Sutter Health. Now I dare you to identify yourself.

I suggest you review the definition of writ of mandate. In a nutshell it is an order from a court to a lower court, public official or government agency to perform a duty that they are obliged to do by law. It is not to address discretionary acts that lie within their statutory authority. The trial court has every discretionary right to grant summary judgments based on the evidence that is presented to it. Unless there is evidence that the lower court abused its discretion by acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner with disregard for the evidence presented to it, the writ of mandate is not the appropriate remedy to pursue.

Anonymous from Jan 16. Frank Rico said it well. I have no diagreement with him. I also am not paid by Sutter Health and hope that soon you will identify yourself as well.

For the rest of you who are pleased at the enormous wasted payments to lawyers which are promoted by journalists and other partisans, I say get real. The wasted two million dollars would have gone a long way to help people, not lawyers.


Sutter is a company that is obliged to offer charitable services to indigents. Imagine if Eden had all the woderful paying customers and none of the redliners. They would lose their OPPORTUNITY to acutally justify its non-for-profit status. Sutter is expected to "lose" some of the monies on redliners. SLH provides this opportunity. Now, you may think I'm a lunatic saying this. Not at all. Listen people, Sutter is not hurting. This is a company that made 1 billion PROFIT in 2009. Way out of line for a health care organization. Most hospitals are happy just to break even. SLH is losing money on the books only. The actual numbers are closely guarded secret. Sutter will shoot itself in the foot if it closes SLH. And Pat needs to finally give it up and run the place proper instead of running it down. The strategy has not worked. SLH is still here despite the fact that the 4th floor is closed and MRI machine absent. SLH is a busy place. It is a vital community resource and should be valued and appreciated as such.

Dr. Rico, first I would like to say thank you for your polite answer to my comments, secondly I would like to say I respect both your credentials in Law and Medicine, however I am suspect in your humanities, you inquire about how many slh employess would work for free, sir would you be so kind as to inform us as to how many pro bono cases you handled as a lawyer and also how many of your patients were not charged for your excellent care in the surgery room. I would also inquire since you are still a member of the bar if you would consider helping me out pro bono, as I am in a legal problem myself at present, and having a wife who is completely bedridden and I am in no position in my life to become unemployed, if you should want to see my charitable contributions I would be more than happy to show them to you so while I do not work here at the hospital for free I do contribute more than most people do, even with all of my own problems at home. Let me know if you are the man you propose to be. I presently have a lawyer, but I dont know how much longer I will be able to afford him especially should my place of employment cease to exist. So that every one if they dont already know people work for the Money, I should have retired 8 years ago, all I really need is the Money. If any of the commenters who have responded so far are working for free, let me hear about it. So to All, this is PAPA JOHN

No one has yet mentioned Pat Fry's salary of 2009,--front page Sacramento Bee-- 3.9 MILLION DOLLARS!!. Why don't we ask Mr Fry to take a 10% pay cut--more would even be better.


I will attempt to let Mr. Terry of the hook on this one. He has never voiced an opinion on San Leandro Hospital as far I remember, although if it mean dueling with some of his infamous opponents, I'm sure he would take the contradicting position.

I also should clear up the media one commenter suggest is in cahoots with the Disrict to "fan the flames" is only one person: me. I wish others would report on the story, but as I've lamented many times here, the media has some sort of prejudice against a good story.

I'll be writing an update on this article tomorrow. The writ of mandate is not the end of the road for the appeal. According to Carole Rogers, it now sets the stage for the actually appeal the District voted to pursue in November.

All of the legal work I do is pro bono. My primary profession is medicine and I, like most doctors, have cared for countless patients for whom I have never been paid.

Steve, Carole Rogers is part of the problem and very partisan. You have yet to write on the issue in non-partisan reporting. That is the reason why no one else wants to write about it. It is a lost cause. The faster the district drops the legal challenges the better off everyone is. Mel

Go to this link to look at hospital performance in Alameda County as reported by the State:
For Heart Attacks - Eden Medical Center had 5 deaths for 46 cases in 2009 (4.0%) - San Leandro Hospital had 3 deaths for 33 cases (4.3%) Not bad for a community hospital when the average for the state was 7.1%!!! San Leandro Hospital was above the pack (even above Eden Medical Center) for stroke deaths at 3.7%. Let the statistics speak.

Dr. Rico: how much of your salary is derived from your employment as an anesthesthiologist (can't spell) from Eden Medical Center? Are you mentioned in the Sutter/District law suit as having a conflict of interest? Why do you oppose keeping San Leandro Hospital open even if there are companies who say they can take it over and make it profitable? We are going to need more hospital beds in the future! Eden Medical Center is building less beds, already closed their acute rehab, and will close scute Psych. Why don't you offer to do pro bono work on behalf of the district? Ever been depressed?

I served on the Board of the District for six years without pay. During that time I put in many hours in meetings and in reviewing documents. I always used my best judgment in that role and gave my best advice for the community. That advice was rejected so here we are.

The reason nobody writes about it is because Sutter spends a boat load of ad dollars in newspapers during the open enrollment period very Fall.

I've written about this issue from every possible angle. Search the site. I've written over 100 stories on Sutter/San Leandro Hospital. The lack of coverage is not based on its newsworthiness, it's because of the changing and diminished power of the legacy print papers.

The money issue with the District's lawsuits and lawyers is a good moment for discussion. My main angle in reporting this story is the continued string of corrupt-looking, shifty business dealings of Sutter. I try to bring national storylines down to the local level. I don't like when people think what goes on in Washington and Sacramento has no affect on their daily lives. It does. With San Leandro Hospital we have an example of mega-corporations going wild on the public dime.

On the legal debate, I've said before on the podcast (returning Jan. 28) that it costs $6-9 million/yr for a subsidy for SLH. The District is paying just under $2 million on legal fees to keep the hospital open. Which is cheaper? That's the District's rationale and it appears to be working.

Mel, Dr. Rico. Where is your comment on my 5 cents? It took the wind from your sails?

To Anonymous Jan 18: I have not worked at Eden since Jan 2007. Since then I am semi-retired and I work part time at a free-standing eye surgery center that is not affiliated with Sutter or Eden.

In the District's cross complaint I am alleged by name to have had a disqualifying conflict of interest. That was an allegation, not a fact, and so far they have failed to prove it by the evidence and that's why they lost in court.

I have never opposed keeping SLH open and anyone who says I did does not know what they are talking about.

Will someone please explain the logic of why a company that is in the hospital business would want to close or get rid of a hospital that makes a profit. If as some allege, SLH makes a profit you would think Sutter would celebrate that they have two profitable hospitals, SLH and Eden. Why on earth would they illegally "cook the books" to make it look like SLH is a loser? As for charity, there are plenty of non-pay cases at either hospital to satisfy the statutory public service requirements. Furthermore, they can make donations if more charity is needed, and they do.

Milo, I don't know what you are referring to by your 5 cents. Could you please be more specific?

Steven: My concern is that ultimately the combination of their own legal fees and the legal fees of the winner plus the damages caused by the delay in complying with the terms of the 2008 agreement will accumulate until they entirely devour all of the District's assets and thusly will end all of the benefits that might have accrued to the community from the District. And still the result for SLH will be the same. It is not fiscally sustainable without a subsidy that currently runs about $1,000,000 per month.

My 5 cents of Jan 17 above, Dr. Rico. I guess you addressed it... Now if SLH is not profitable, why doesn't Sutter step aside and allow the District to lease it to Prime? Let Prime lose their shirt on it? Try honestly answer that one.

Hello everyone, here is something you might find interesting reading, this is found on Sutter Health site. It is titled BEING NOT-FOR-PROFIT. Unlike investor-owned health care systems, Sutter Health is a NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization,.As such, any money left over after employees and bills have been paid is reinvested in health care.
It goes on further in another section:
Also, investor-owned for-profit health systems have a financial incentive to avoid caring for uninsured and underinsured patients. They also have a financial incentive to avoid hard-to-serve populations and "undesirable geographic areas such as rural areas.
This being the case why has Sutter been sued for redlining of these very patients time and time again. And lets face it Eden patient mix is far and above SLH, this being true suppose SLH was losing money (which I dont believe it is ) this could account for a large part of the lower profit margin that the Sutter Health the not-for-profit organization claims to be wanting to help.
And lets face it with a profit of over a BILLION DOLLARS, this community could have used some of that money invested in SLH, we havent seen any improvement here at SLH for better than 3 years.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading about SUTTER HEALTH and their not-for-profit status.
So until next time STAY WELL. PAPA JOHN

Milo, Google Prime Health and then ignore all of the PR articles that they themselves have written and read the ones from the LA times and the State of California. The State sued Prime for misconduct in billing and won a settlement of millions against Prime and also personally against its founder Dr. Prem Reddy. You guys don't do your homework when you go shooting off your mouths with unsubstantiated opinions.

SLH gets 60% Medicare, 21% Medi-Cal, 9% Self-pay and 10% commercial. Eden get 40% Medicare, 24% Medi-Cal, 26% commercial and 10% self pay. Hospitals lose money on Medicare and Medi-Cal. Total admissions for SLH last year were about 4000 with 2500 surgeries. Eden had about 10,000 admissions with 6000 surgeries. The hospitals survive on their commercial insurance business. Note the contrast between SLH and Eden. That, together with the GI outpatient endoscopy that Sahwney and company have sucked away from SLH to the tune of millions are the reasons for SLH's dire financial condition.

Post a Comment