St. Rose To The Rescue

By Steven Tavares

A lawyer for Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital gave the first public acknowledgement Wednesday it is seeking to operate San Leandro Hospital.

“If this progresses it will provide a way for the District to benefit and protect the health care needs of the district,” said Bob Heath, an attorney for St. Rose Hospital. He cautioned discussions are “ very much in a preliminary stage.”

While the statement made Wednesday night to the Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors was brief, it confirmed interest by St. Rose to enter the two-year battle to keep San Leandro Hospital open.

Scant details were offered by Heath other than St. Rose’s offer to operate San Leandro Hospital and join the Eden Township Healthcare District. Later in the meeting, the District board unanimously approved a confidentiality agreement between St. Rose and the District over details of their negotiations.

Support for St. Rose’s involvement moved many local leaders to attend the monthly meeting, including State Sen. Ellen Corbett who told the board, “I support your efforts,” in additon to encouragement from San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilman Jim Prola. The inclusion of St.Rose, located off Tennyson Road, has also brought Hayward city leaders into the fray, including Councilmen Bill Quirk and Marvin Peixoto.

Quirk assured the board of the city council’s support for the St. Rose proposal in the future, while urging for the need to maintain the already dwindling capacity of hospital beds in the area. “All of the surrounding community will be hurt tremendously if we don’t keep these 90 beds open,” said Quirk. “There’s a real shortage of beds for acute care beds right now.”

For any plan to succeed, the District will need the blessing of Sutter Health, who plans to purchase San Leandro Hospital and lease it to the Alameda County Medical Center for acute rehabilitation . Such a move would mean shutting down the facility’s surgery and emergency room services, something the public has vehemently opposed. Sutter’s execution of its right to purchase the hospital under the controversial agreement made with the District in 2008 is the subject of a continuing legal skirmish in the courts.

“Sutter Health is the missing piece of this puzzle and the most difficult part of this campaign,” said Mike Brannan, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association. “I’m convinced with all of us working together with a real viable alternative with St. Rose that we be able to convince, cajole or pressure Sutter Health into doing the right thing for our community.”