Eden Township Healthcare District Board Chair Carole Rogers speaks to supporters Monday evening at a rally in support of saving San Leandro Hospital. Also pictured is Mike Brannan of the California Nurses Association and Zenei Cortez, one of the council of presidents for CNA.

The Citizen

THE DISTRICT v. SUTTERLeaders and supporters of the cause to save San Leandro Hospital unleashed fiery rhetoric at Sutter Health Monday evening, while urging a throng of over 250 people Monday evening to continue their efforts to keep the community hospital’s door open at the behest of the corporation and the county, who plan to convert it to an acute rehabilitation facility.

The gathering located beside the San Leandro Medical Arts Building adjacent to the hospital is the largest group of supporters since state Sen. Ellen Corbett organized an event at the San Leandro Library in August of last year. That event was informational in tone, while last night’s was clearly organized to rally the troops.

“San Leandro Hospital is not going to close,” shouted Eden Township Healthcare District Chair Carole Rogers, who has been at the forefront of leading the charge against Sutter Health and later led supporters during a  candlelight vigil down East 14th Street.

Rogers reiterated her call for fellow boardmember Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar to resign his position for alleged conflicts of interest outined in the District’s lawsuit against Sutter. Rogers announced she has sent a letter to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office urging it to investigate any criminal wrongdoing on Ratnesar’s part during the negotiation and approval of the 2008 memorandum of understanding. The document ultimately allowed Sutter to purchase the hospital if it did not sufficiently improve its financial situation. Sutter last year announced it would lease the hospital to the county for what is says is much-needed acute rehabilitation beds in the area. The lawsuit alleges Ratnesar was employed by Sutter at the time of the disputed agreement.

Labor Representative Mike Brannan of the California Nurses Association, who has been working with supporters of the hospital for over a year, had stern words for Sutter, “We stopped you from closing San Leandro Hospital last year and we’re going to stop you this year,” he said. The nurses union also announced it will erect a billboard in support of the hospital nearby during the next week overlooking East 14th.

Eden Township Healthcare District Director Dr. Vin Sawhney, who along with Rogers has been a constant critic of the proposed plans by Sutter and the county for San Leandro Hospital, praised the community for whom many observers on all sides of the conflict believe are the sole reason the facility is still functioning today.

“Look at what you have accomplished,” said Sawhney. “Go back a year ago, we were all told San Leandro Hospital would be closed on Sept. 30, 2009. Many people believed that would happen, but this community fought.” He also added “It is the power of the community that has put Sutter where they are today.”

Sawhney, along with two other speakers, made reference to Sunday night’s passing of health care reform as both a reason not to close hospitals in advance of any additional 32 million new consumers entering the sytem with health insurance, but also as a symbol of have far communities can affect change.”We have accomplished as a nation something very dramatic and very historic,” said Sawhney. “I believe as a community will be able to overcome the power of a huge corporation and have our hospital serving our community our way.”

Lower photo: Supporters with picket signs and candles walk down East 14th Street Monday evening. 
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