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Monday, December 12, 2011

Eden Healthcare District Says St. Rose Loan Is In Default; Hospital Set To Repay

SAVE SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL
Dec. 12, 2011 | The Eden Township Healthcare District notified financially-strapped St. Rose Hospital last week it was in default of a $2.35 million loan the elected body provided the Hayward private hospital last fall.

The Dec. 6 letter to St. Rose from the District was followed a day later with an offer by its CEO Michael Mahoney for a repayment schedule calling for weekly payments ranging from $167,000 to $200,000 through the beginning of next March. The District is expected to approve the plan at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.

The District loaned the struggling hospital $3 million last August after a botched computer system conversion prevented St. Rose from billing Medicare for services rendered.

Speaking before the Eden Township Board of Directors last month, Mahoney said the hospital's billing procedures had been fixed and regular cash flow and been re-established.

Terms of the initial $3 million loan called for a quick remittance of the balance once the hospital's billing situations was abated, along with 8.25 percent simple interest.

According to correspondence between the District and Mahoney, the hospital had partially paid down some of their debt with a single $650,000 payment on Oct. 31, but had not made another payment or agreed to a re-payment schedule for the remaining $2.35 million until Dec. 7.

The burgeoning alliance between the District and St. Rose comes with mutual benefits, both sides agree. Earlier this year, Mahoney approached the District with a proposal that would allow them to absorb St. Rose into the health care district as a means to secure the viability of both San Leandro Hospital and St. Rose. By combining the two facilities, Mahoney says, the district will benefit from larger economies of scale that can be converted into more generous federal grants and subsidies.

The future of St. Rose and the tenability of providing health care at the county level is currently at a tipping point, according to Mahoney and other county health care officials.

"We've stopped digging the hole deeper," Mahoney said to the board last month. "Now its a matter of making sure we fill it in and hit our targets." In addition, the hospital is monitoring its cash flow on a daily basis, Mahoney said, and does not foresee any dire financial straits, at least, for the next few months.

An outside consultant hired by the county was brought in last summer to review the financial situation at St. Rose. Mahoney says many of the recommendations have been put into place and have led to immediate savings. Within a month, he says, a case management consulting firm reduced the average length of stay at the facility from 5.8 days to 4.3.

"This is a risky time in health care," said Mahoney, who along with a county health care administrator urged the District to quickly move forward with discussions to merge with St. Rose. "We remain concerned about how St. Rose and the District could come together," he said. "We are optimistic, but if we move forward on this, we realize this will be a risk venture."

Alameda County Health Care Services Director Alex Briscoe said regardless of the District's pending lawsuit over the fate of San Leandro Hospital, it needs to go forward with merger talks. "Mov[ing] with great haste to execute the merger between the District and St. Rose," said Briscoe, "makes sense on multiple levels regardless of the lawsuit's outcome."

A staff member representing Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer also asked for a quick and positive resolution to merger talks between the two sides.

One of the main benefits of adding St. Rose to the Eden Healthcare District involves a greater opportunity to increase tax revenue through the ballot box. Theoretically, the District would have greater leverage in passing potential bond measures to shore up funding for operation at facilities in Hayward and San Leandro.

The outcome of the District's appeal of a prior ruling by a Alameda County Superior Court judge earlier this year granting title of San Leandro Hospital to Sutter Health could be handed down as early as January.

Sutter sued the District in 2009 for control of the facility after the District blocked the transfer of title to the Sacramento-based non-profit chain. The District counter sued saying the a conflict of interest existed within its previous board of directors and CEO at the time of a 2008 agreement meant to rebuild Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley and allow two more years for San Leandro Hospital to become financially viable.

At the time, the CEO of Eden Medical Center held the same position at the health care district. Attorney's for the District also contend one member of the previous board maintained dual loyalties to Sutter and the District as a practicing anesthesiologist with ties to Eden Medical Center.

15 comments :

it gets worse. Sutter has everything ready to go if they win in January. Rumor is they will give a 90 day notice to employees within a week after the hearing and have the doors locked up by May.

St Rose is mismanaged. Their leadership should be replaced by competant leadership. A computer mishap my ass.

The computer snafu actually happened, but I get the gist of what you're saying. If anything, it made things way worse and forced their problems out in the open.

If the township ended up overseeing st rose they essentially make themselves a passenger the sinking ship. if SLH and stR are together all problems would be fixed. In reality Sutter health will own SLH after January and stR will be in the same place it is now but dragging the township down with it. HUGE risk for the district. It won't pay off.

We need all of the hospitals we have no matter what! The County Hospital gets the lions share of State subsidy; St.R gets peanuts when they take care of the County's indigent patients. 25% of the hospital's are charity care. How would you stay in business when 25% of your customers couldn't pay you after delivering the service? Are you one of the tea partiers who say "let them die"? It could be you or a member of your family in hard times with no insurance. This will take a community effort to solve the problem.

this sounds alot like what the banks were saying "we got to many mortgages with people who can't pay" "bail us out taxpayers". Now are you saying that St Rose and SLH are too big to fail?

This is health care stupid. Life and death. You only get one life to live. It is the role of government to take care of people who cannot afford to pay.. Are you one of those people who holler "let them die?". Go live in North Korea.

If we keep allowing failed hospitals to survive then quality healthcare is denied us. St rose is a failed hospital SLH is a failed hospital. Just visit hospital compare for what failure means to patients.

Bad management does not lead to quality healthcare in spite of good doctors and nurses.

Yeah and that is just housing. A roof over our heads. We have a choice in healthcare.

The Too Big To Fail question doesn't totally fit, but it's a good starting point. You cant live without banks (unfortunately). You can't live without hospitals. Every health care official will tell you there are simply not enough beds in Alameda County. So, in that sense, closing any hospital is not something that will help and similar to saying the fed could not allow the banks to fail in 2008.

You must feel sorry for one (and their children) who in discourse devolves into calling someone stupid.

Steven agreed there are not enough beds. But beds don't make a quality hospital. It's doctors, nurses and a good management. Let's elevate this discussion beyond beds and talk about the awful management at both Sutter, St Rose and the District. Bad inept management leads to poor quality whether in healthcare, banking or government.

If you are having a stroke, you are better off going to San Leandro Hospital than other local hospitals - see State Quality Care report http://www.oshpd.ca.gov/HID/Products/PatDischargeData/AHRQ/IQI/AHRQ_IMI_2009.pdf

Ok strokes. What about heart, cancer, er care, a big Zero.

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