Corbett’s Hospital Bill Moves to Health Committee

BILL WOULD PROTECT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT ASSETS; AIMED AT SUTTER

SAN LEANDROState Sen. Ellen Corbett is again using the power of the Legislature like the Sword of Damocles over the head of Sutter Health as employees of San Leandro Hospital and the community await word of its possible closure.

The bill, SB 1240, aims to protect the market value of a healthcare district’s assets and require them to remain within the district. Specifically, the legislation which was referred today to the Senate Health Committee, is a response to critics who say Sutter has devalued the purchase price of San Leandro Hospital to virtually nothing through accounting tricks and and credits from improvements to its infrastructure. The bill would also make it law for operators to undergo an annual fiscal audit, a procedure local pols including Corbett and the Eden Township Healthcare District have unsuccessfully called for Sutter to perform.

“Health care districts are formed when citizens take the extraordinary step to assess themselves in order to create a community hospital,” Corbett said today in a statement from her office. “I have seen first hand how hard a community will fight to save its hospital and how difficult that fight can be.”

The last time Corbett put forth legislation pertaining to San Leandro Hospital was last summer when her bill was torpedoed by fellow lawmaker Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, who abstained from making the decisive vote to carry the bill out of committee. Hayashi was a co-author of the bill and infamously fought a very public war of press releases criticizing each other. SB 196 dealt with lengthening the time frame hospital providers must give healthcare districts of their intention to close an emergency room from 90 to 120 days.

At the time, Hayashi said the bill did nothing to avert the closure of the emergency room at San Leandro Hospital. In a press release from July 1, 2009, she said legislation, likely to become law as late as January 2010, would be “months after Sutter Health Network plans to shut the emergency room down.”

In hindsight, the closing of the emergency room at San Leandro Hospital has steadily rested on the critical list, unchanged for much of the nine months. With the possibility Sutter could announce the closing of San Leandro Hospital as early as next week, time is again of the essence.

In other hospital news, the District will hold a special meeting Monday, April 12 Tuesday, April 13, 5:30 p.m. at the HARD District Office in Hayward. The negotiating team of Dr. Harry Dvorsky, Dr. Vin Sawhney and Dr. Rajendra Rantesar will meet in closed session. There has been no indication Sutter will make any announcement this week on the fate of the hospital, although rumors are swirling the decision could be made as early as next week. Any announcement by Sutter would likely give the District notice of their intention to close San Leandro Hospital after 90 days.

-STEVEN TAVARES 

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