Surgery Center For Sale; but not to Sutter?

The Citizen

When it comes to potential buyers for the Eden Township Healthcare District’s stake in the San Leandro Surgery Center, the For Sale sign may be coming down when it comes to Sutter Health.

The board went against a recommendation to sell its partnership in the surgery center located near BayFair mall to Sutter for $1.19 million. The essence of the motion first raised by Director Dr. Vin Sawhney sought to separate the transaction from the current dispute with Sutter over San Leandro Hospital, but withdrew his support after comments by boardmembers Dr. Bill West and Carole Rogers along with a San Leandro nurse.

“The only question is, whether in our larger issue with Sutter, this has some negotiating value and that’s probably very small, but that’s the only other consideration,” said West. “We certainly have better use for the cash.” West also indicated management at the surgery center told him they were “anxious to have Sutter on board.”

Eden Township Healthcare District CEO Dev Mahadevan, who instructed legal counsel to craft a motion that would have little bearing on the District’s interest at San Leandro Hospital, said “I don’t know if this is a significant issue for negotiation. I think it will be the physicians who will be caught in the middle.”

Carol Barazzi, a nurse at San Leandro Hospital, seemed to have swayed the board towards postponing a decision when she expressed her belief Sutter would use the center to further drain profitability from the hospital as many have charged for months. “I can see Sutter dumping a bunch of money into the surgery center and sucking more services out of the hospital,” Barazzi said. “I think that’s exactly what they would do and that would support their statements that we’re losing money hand over fist.”

New Board Chair Carole Rogers said a consultant questioned last year why the District would sell a potentially profitable asset to Sutter. Rogers then appeared to mock Sutter by saying, “Why would Sutter buy something that is always losing money?”

Newly-installed District general counsel, Colin Coffey, reminded the board the offer from Sutter could be taken off the table before the board unanimously approved postponing a decision until February at the earliest.