Lai-Bitker Urges District to Explore Back Up Plan

The Citizen 

SUTTER vs THE DISTRICTAlameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker issued a stern rebuke Wednesday to the Directors of the Eden Township Healthcare District, saying they have failed to develop a contingency plan in the event they lose their lawsuit against Sutter Health.

“I’m not here to argue about the details of the [hybrid model],” said Lai-Bitker. “The fact that I am here at this late stage troubles me enough and I’m even more troubled by this board’s total reliance on winning this case to the exclusion of developing a contingency plan in case you do not win in court. This will be very detrimental to the community and defeats our goal of saving the hospital. In fact, it will likely result in the loss of the hospital.” 

Lai-Bitker later asked the board for a five-year commitment to help fund a plan–commonly named the “hybrid model”–to house both acute rehabilitation and emergency room services at San Leandro Hospital. The Alameda County Health Services Agency estimates any plan will need a subsidy between $6-9 million to be viable. Lai-Bitker told the board such a plan is “mutli-jurisdictional” and would use a dollar figure from the District as a “starting point” to attract the support of the county’s own agency, Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente and possibly the taxpayers of San Leandro.

She also holds the belief the board’s recent large expenditures for attorney’s fees and the hiring of a public relations firm at a cost of $10,000 per month is money spent unwisely. Lai-Bitker said doing so at the expense of not planning a secondary option “seems a little reckless to me.”

“I firmly believe that spending this money on subsidizing this facility is a far better way of spending the District’s money than using it to pay attorney’s fees,” said Lai-Bitker.

Eden Township Chair Carole Rogers said the issue was “all in Sutter’s hands, at this point” and told the Lai-Bitker she would place the hybrid proposal under consideration along with other plans the District may later explore.

The letter sent by Lai-Bitker to the District March 15 was the second time she had asked the board to consider a subsidy for San Leandro Hospital. Lai-Bitker said Wednesday her initial correspondence to the board in July 2009 did not elicit a response. Rumors of the current letter had circulated  since late last month along with discussion Lai-Bitker was attempting to sort out financing for the hybrid model among different entities along with an effort to reach a firm dollar figure in the event voters in San Leandro might be asked to approve a tax to help fund the hospital.