By Steven Tavares

A crucial majority vote in the Eden Township Healthcare District’s fight to keep San Leandro Hospital and its emergency room open says he will not seek re-election this November.

Retired thoracic surgeon Dr. Harry Dvorsky says he will not seek to retain his seat–one of three open on the board this year. Current Chair Carole Rogers and Dr. Bill West tell The Citizen they plan to run for re-election as the District continues its nearly two-year battle with Sutter Health to keep San Leandro Hospital from being converted to an acute care rehabilitation center replacing the county’s aging and seismically-deficient Fairmont Hospital.

Dvorsky’s wife, Isobel, who also sits on the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, responded to an inquiry about her husband’s future plans through her personal email saying, “No, I will not be running.” The 86-year-old Dvorsky, along with Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar have the longest tenure on the board. Both were first elected in 1998.

The mental state of the once-prominent surgeon who practiced at San Leandro has been a concern of many boardmembers and observers as the District has fought to keep the hospital in operation. Dvorsky’s vote on the now-reworked board has been crucial in moving it forward to a more offensive stance leading to a countersuit filed March 10 against Sutter. The suit has put the future of San Leandro Hospital on pause for much of the past three months, but Dvorsky’s indecision nearly scuttled the move.

In the day after his vote directed the District’s lawyers to move ahead with the suit, Dvorsky faxed a letter to its CEO asking to rescind his vote. A re-vote was never scheduled and was later featured in a legal filing authored by Sutter. Many assert Dvorsky’s limited faculties were manipulated leading to the abrupt change of mind and were only exacerbated when Dvorsky told The Citizen he remembered writing the letter to the District, but did not recall why he wrote it in the first place.

Rogers’ plan to run for re-election has been well-known. She had told people in the past she would have liked to retire and move to Washington state only if the situation with San Leandro Hospital is resolved. With a lawsuit still pending in the coming months such a scenario is not likely.

West’s future plans on the board were a less certain until he emailed a succinct “yes” in response to a query about the coming election. West replaced Dr. Walter Kran late last year after the boardmember surprisingly resigned. In public interviews for the position, West was coy on whether he would run for re-election if selected and has become, along with Rogers and Dr. Vin Sawhney, the board’s voting bloc in favor of keeping the hospital open.

Others rumored to have interest in one of the three seats include Dr. Ronald Hull, who has unsuccessfully run for the seat twice before and an unnamed retired nurse with strong ties to the Save San Leandro Hospital movement. One perennial candidate who says he will not run is former boardmember Dr. Francisco Rico, whom critics say is one of the reasons Sutter was able to gain advantageous concessions from the District in 2008 during his time on the board.

Rico, 72, lost re-election that year and was replaced by Sawhney and also interviewed to replace Kran last year. “I would like to devote myself to enjoying my remaining years,” said Rico who added he is looking forward to the opening of the new Eden Medical Center.