Mar. 12, 2012 | Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer's recent bout with addiction has obvious personal ramifications after she reportedly entered rehabilitation for drug and alcohol dependency in February. While the shorthanded Board of Supervisors has done its best to move forward in her absence, some of the most vulnerable county residents may now face the consequences of Lockyer's recent behavior.
As the county continues to find ways to prop up the beleaguered St. Rose Hospital in Lockyer's district in Hayward, a plan to infuse $2 million in short-term financing may be in jeopardy if she cannot attend Tuesday's scheduled board meeting.
The plan put forth by the Alameda County Health Care Services agency secured the funding for St. Rose through a proposal to enter into a joint powers agreement with the Washington Health Care District in Fremont, St. Rose and the county. The health care district fronted St. Rose the financing, pending approval by the board of supervisors, albeit by a four-fifths vote.
Ruben Briones, Lockyer's interim chief of staff, declined to comment on whether Lockyer will appear at Tuesday's meeting or how her absence might relate to the fate of St. Rose.
Without Lockyer's participation, according to county sources, there is a very real possibility the proposal fails to garner the unanimous decision, now potentially required. Sources say, keep an eye on Supervisor Keith Carson's comments on the county's potential participation. In addition, Supervisor Wilma Chan may register some concerns over how San Leandro Hospital--another county hospital in flux and located in Chan's district--plays out in this newest scenario to shore up a worsening health care situation in Alameda County.
Although there have been rumors of Lockyer returning to Oak Street on Tuesday, sources also say she is not expected in the supervisor's chambers.
One way to sidestep Lockyer's attendance problem would be to simply postpone the item for later in the month. However, in this case, the financial situation at St. Rose may be so dire that inattention from the board of supervisors could inadvertently push it toward insolvency. Alameda County Health Care Services Director Alex Briscoe, in a staff report last week, intimated that Prime Healthcare, a controversial Southern California health care provider known for preying on struggling facilities like St. Rose, may be lying in the weeds ready to purchase the hospital.
Over roughly the past six months, Lockyer's office has been tireless in attempting to find a solution to help St. Rose, in tandem with earlier proposals to save San Leandro Hospital. A week before news of her bizarre encounter at a Newark hotel in early February, Lockyer had penned an Op-Ed in the Hayward Daily Review in support of St. Rose. One of her last public appearances before entering rehab occurred before the Hayward City Council were she lobbied for their support in saving the local facility.
With Lockyer's potentially crucial vote absent from tomorrow's board of supervisor's meeting, there is no consensus on what may happen next for a critical piece of the county's health care apparatus covering over 35,000 emergency room patients a year--most of whom lack access sufficient access to health care.