EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sutter’s Change Of Heart Gives East Bay Officials Hope For San Leandro Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco
SAVE SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL | Good news across the bay in San Francisco over Sutter Health’s deal to rebuild St. Luke’s Hospital and construct a smaller scale facility at Cathedral Hill is being viewed cautiously as a hopeful sign for the future of San Leandro Hospital.

The fight by community members in San Francisco’s Mission District, along with the nurses’ union to keep St. Luke’s open in many ways paralleled the struggle in the East Bay. Like San Leandro Hospital, the facility primarily serves a high number of poor and underinsured patients. After years of negotiations, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is on the path to approving a deal with Sutter that should lock the health care behemoth into expanding service in that area for the foreseeable future.

Some labor leaders on this side of the bay have held the opinion Sutter Health will not act upon dealing with San Leandro Hospital, which an appellate court last year awarded to them following a three-year legal battle with the Eden Township Healthcare District, until it concluded negotiations in San Francisco. On both side of the bay, Sutter’s unwillingness to budge on its stated goals has been as sure as the sun setting under the Golden Gate. Its change of heart, however, has raised the attention of some East Bay officials.

“They did something they said they would never do,” said Alex Briscoe, the director of Alameda County Healthcare Services this week. However, Briscoe said the county, at least, has not had any contact recently with Sutter over San Leandro’s Hospital near-term future.

On Wednesday, Carole Rogers, the chair of the Eden Township Healthcare District, during a special meeting on the agency’s role in local health care, said the possibility of it supporting San Leandro Hospital in the future “is not off the table.” She also said district aid for Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital is still in the mix, or even that both facilities could one day receive support from the healthcare district.

Sutter officials have indicated a desire to close San Leandro Hospital as an acute general hospital with 24-hour emergency room services. Sutter says the facility is hemorrhaging in steep monthly losses and would better serve Alameda County as an acute rehabilitation center. Community members and the nurses union, however, have vehemetly opposed the possibility of losing its emergency room out of concern for people's lives.

“Hopefully it’s a sign that Sutter Health is looking at a plan for San Leandro,” said Dev Mahadevan, the District’s CEO. Although, at the same time, he was also skeptical. “Just because they do something in San Francisco, it doesn’t men they’ll do it here.”

When jokingly asked whether Sutter’s new strategy came from sort of corporate heart transplant, Vin Sawhney, a long-time District board member and harsh critic of the health care provider disagreed. “I would say they are learning how to cooperate within a community.”

Despite continued silence from Sutter over finalizing San Leandro Hospital’s fate, Briscoe told The Citizen last January, if they move to close the facility, it would likely not occur before the spring of 2014, sometime after the opening of Kaiser Permanente’s San Leandro facility currently under construction near Marina Boulevard.

7 comments :

They didn't close St. Lukes in SF and It was losing money. What are we chop liver? Sutter made 765 million last year and they can afford to keep the Hospital open! We need the emergency room beds because even with Kaiser coming there isn't enough beds. They are paying their top management millions. Cut back on upper level bonuses if they need to save money. Keep SL Hosp. open!

the deal in SF was a 50/50 program-cathederal hill downsized and st luke's remain open. SL still different than SF. Interesting seeing sawhney and rogers comments; if they had compromised in 2009, all would have been settled; they were the ones who killed the agreement and caused great damage to the district-hopefully they will not get away with it. they need to pay their dues. tony santos

Compromised? You mean sell out to Sutter? That's not what the community wanted

It seems to me that the problems that developed with keeping San Leandro open provided lots of ammunition to the negotiations in San Francisco. They saw the true colors of the Sutter organization and business plan. By balking at the original deal the SF Supes were able to preserve St. Luke's and get a more community friendly compromise with Sutter. It remains to be seen whether that attention and outcome will change facts on the ground in the East Bay.

It may be that stalling this long will allow the changes of Obamacare to change the financial reality of San Leandro to be able to be more reasonable for Sutter to continue to operate. Hard to say.

The next big big battle will be when Measure A sunsets and the community hospitals that have been doing a lion's share of the uncompensated health care in the county outside of Oakland (i.e. San Leandro and St. Rose) argue for a greater share of funds than they have been getting. Highland gets 75% of Measure A funds, with all remaining providers clamoring over the last 25%. Sorry, but as important as Highland is, they do not provide 75% of care for the entire county. If Measure A is to be renewed, funds should be allocated on a proportional basis. That is the only fair, transparent way to do it, and will go a long way toward keeping places like St. Rose and San Leandro solvent.

Save San Leandro hospital with a 24 hour emergency room!

Anon March 20th 9:40 gives us some thoughtful, perceptive views.

One clarification: Measure A is specifically meant to provide funding for providers of health care to the uninsured, indigent and medically underserved in the County. Does Highland, Fairmont, John George and the many public-sector clinics provide 75% of the care for the uninsured, indigent and medically underserved in Alameda County? They come closer to that percentage when you consider these accurate definitions of the Measure.

One last point: San Leandro Hospital does provide care for a meaningful portion of the patients defined within Measure A's scope. Unfortunately, Sutter now both owns and operates SLH, and as long as they are trashing the Hospital, claiming that it is not a viable business while actively and systematically pulling many of SLH's profitable operations and sending them to Eden, Alta Bates Summitt and other Sutter-controlled facilities, and threatening to close the Hospital's irreplaceable acute services, they will not get a thin dime of Measure A money.

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