‘Damn The Torpedoes!’


Nurses protest the possible closing of San Leandro Hospital in front of the Alameda County Administration Building in Oakland.

By Steven Tavares

When Eden Township Healthcare District Chair Carole Rogers was asked about what is next for the board after an Alameda County judge ruled in favor of Sutter Health in its countersuit against the operator of San Leandro Hospital, her answer was unwavering. “Damn the torpedoes,” she said, “full speed ahead.”

The District approved a course of action Wednesday night to appeal Superior Court Judge Marshall Whitley’s ruling in favor of Sutter in the case which could have potentially scuttled their plans to close San Leandro Hospital. The District’s appeal may give the hospital another year of life as the case winds through the appellate process.

“Our efforts have kept the doors open for months longer than originally planned,” the District said in a statement read after their closed session meeting Wednesday. “This has saved lives and protected the health of our community. This is the mandate of the Eden Township Healthcare District. This is why we decided to pursue legal action in the first place and why we are pursuing appellate review now.”

Dr. Francisco Rico, who was named in the District’s countersuit and is a former boardmember, has long criticized the board’s legal action against Sutter and urged them not to appeal the decision. Rico called the litigation “ill-advised” and faulted the board for spending $1.7 million in legal fees. “You are gambling with other people’s money,” Rico said.

Judge Whitley found the claims against Rico, whose anesthesiology group had financial ties to Sutter while he negotiated the controversial 2008 memorandum of understanding for the District, did not rise to the threshold of a financial conflict-of-interest nor did he “serve two masters” in his role as District director negotiating with Sutter.

A larger-than-normal group of hospital supporters urged the board to follow through with the countersuit on appeal. “It is absolutely essential for the community to have a full-service hospital,” said Joanne Jung, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association. She described other Sutter-operated hospitals in the region affiliated with CNA union members that have undergone recent cutbacks in service, including Mills-Peninsula in Burlingame and Alta Bates in Berkeley. “Patients are being abandoned,” she said.

Carol Barazi, a nurse at San Leandro Hospital, said the flow of patients at the hospital is overwhelming the supply of services it can provide. “The emergency room at San Leandro Hospital is bursting at the seams with patients,” said Barazi, who also noted beds for its intensive care unit are in high demand along with surgeries scheduled well into the night. She said not appealing the court’s decision does not help the community. “What is going to happen is that it will only serve Sutter and the county supervisors, and that’s it.”

Categories: CNA, Eden Township, Francisco Rico, S.L. Hospital, Sutter, Sutter Lawsuit

9 replies

  1. $1.7 million was the figure through September. At the November 17 Board meeting the figure through October is now over $1.8 million wasted!


  2. Your article says that I was “named in the District's countersuit.” That wording implies that I was a party or a defendant in that litigation. Neither is the case. There were allegations in the body of the District's counterclaim that included my name but I was NOT sued. Had I been named as a defendant in the suit the District would have paid for my lawyers. They refused to do that because I was NOT named in the suit. In the law, being named in a suit is a term that means that you are one of the parties.


  3. keep on talking, rico..karma is just around the corner…


  4. Don't you just love all these people who write in anonymously or with pseudonyms because they don't have the guts to stand up for what they believe?


  5. $1.8 million WASTED!!!! On what??? Emergency Services??? How can you put a price on PEOPLE'S HEALTH! In this economy people including children dont have insurance.If you are counting profits then your Sutter Logo Needs to go “NOT FOR PROFIT” this is a game you and Sutter use to make profits use small hospitals like San Leandro Use & Abuse Them..Close them. Lost Profits?!! If so where's all the money coming from to REBUILD LUXURY Hospitals like Eden,Alta Bates,Etc all around the bay area.


  6. Once again, we have the same people pulling out the same tired arguments; children, poor, frail, elderly, boo hoo hoo. It's no big deal to go to Eden. Get over it nimrods.


  7. Hospitals survive on their commercial insurance contracts. The largest expense for hospitals is labor. Last year, just as an exercise, I did the computations to show that if every worker at SLH took a 10% cut, and you cut whatever professional fees were paid out by 10% and finally if you reduced the cut that went to Sutter by 10% then SLH would break even. Then if you recaptured the GI endoscopy business that Director Sahwney took to his private endoscopy center in Hayward SLH would turn a profit and become fiscally sustainable. Naturally I never seriously proposed this because I expected that nobody would be willing to make the sacrifices. Better that patients at other hospitals pay more to subsidize SL:H, or where did you think Sutter got the money to cover SLH's losses.


  8. They way you price health is by paying for PG&E, paying employee salaries, paying for equipment, paying for maintenance and paying taxes. Yes, the Sutter System does pay taxes. As a non-profit they are exempt from income taxes, but they are NOT exempt from property taxes or sales taxes. The largest cost by far is for labor. If one division operates at a loss, then the other divisions must charge more to make up for it, and that's how we all get to pay for it.


  9. Sutter exempt from income taxes, property taxes! That means exempt from a $650million profit!! Who pays for their exemption, me and you. By paying higher taxes: income, sales, etc.

    There are no free lunches. We pay more so that they pay less.


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