No Hospital Action, ‘Hybrid’ Model Gains Steam

KEARS: “COURAGE AND COMMITMENT WILL SAVE THE HOSPITAL”……LAI-BITKER DOES NOT CALL FOR PROMISED WITHDRAWAL OF COUNTY PROPOSAL…..PRESIDENT OF BOS FAVORS “HYBRID MODEL” HOSPITAL PLAN…..NO ACTION MAY BE TAKEN FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS

By Steven Tavares
The Citizen

People buy hybrid cars supposedly to save the environment. A growing group of politicians are beginning to believe a “hybrid model” might save San Leandro Hospital.

The plan would render the hospital a downsized potpourri of services including a functioning emergency room and two floors of acute rehabilitation beds in addition to medical, surgical and intensive care units.

The president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Alice Lai-Bitker enthusiastically supported the proposal as did San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola. The hybrid model was first broached last month by the Eden Township Healthcare District along with San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos with little fanfare but has since gained steam.

The county, though, dampened the mood when Alex Briscoe, the acting director of Alameda County Health Services (ACHS), informed the board an analysis of the hybrid model showed costs ranging between $3.5 million to $7 million per year. When questioned how San Leandro Hospital would obtain such subsidies, Briscoe offered as candidates, the city of San Leandro, the healthcare district and Sutter Health without clarifying why each entity would have an distinct interest in doing so.

Briscoe also called Sutter’s accounting that San Leandro Hospital loses at least $300,000 a month to be “legitimate.” The admission created a stir with many speakers in light of a recent reassessment by the county of Sutter’s claim that 80 percent of patients to the facility’s emergency room could be serviced with urgent care. The real figure according to Briscoe is 59 percent, which he said is typical for a community hospital of its size and comparable to Highland Hospital in Oakland (53 percent) and St. Rose in Hayward (56 percent).

The former director of ACHS David Kears attributed the error to Sutter extrapolating a few months over a year which skewed the data. Lai-Bitker expressed frustration over the development to which Briscoe said, “I think we let you down.”

“I just don’t trust the Alameda County Medical Center,” said Prola, “They are too eager to accept Sutter’s figures which all our doctors and nurses tell us are wrong.”

Kears, who retired last week, can’t get away from the hospital scrum and appeared agitated by the perceived absence of leadership on the issue. “People will advocate for the city and the district, other sources or legislation to keep the hospital open,” said Kears, “But there has been no evidence that they will put the money on the table.”

While reiterating the county’s proposal to shift needed acute rehab services to San Leandro Hospital, Kears also summed up the county’s dilemma in the most stark terms heard thus far in a public hearing. “We thought at the beginning that it would be a win-win–we’re not there–but win-lose is still better than lose-lose,” he said, “That is the most likely prospect if we pull away from this proposal.”