Chan Urges Sutter To Negotiate; Warns Supervisors Are Unified

By Steven Tavares
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In a letter to the CEO of Sutter Health, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan urges the health provider to enter negotiations with the county and St. Rose Hospital to maintain San Leandro Hospital under the control of the Eden Township Healthcare District.

The correspondence, dated May 27, states the Board of Supervisors are “unequivocally” against the agreement between Sutter and the Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC). “While we understand that Sutter may believe it has a ‘deal’ with ACMC, the Board of Supervisors are in agreement on this issue and maintains appointing powers of all trustees of ACMC,” wrote Chan. The letter is also signed by Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer. St. Rose Hospital is located in Lockyer’s District 2.

Sutter triggered its right to purchase San Leandro Hospital in July 2009 and quickly entered a lease agreement with ACMC to operate the facility as an acute rehab center and hoping to replace the seismically-deficient Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro. The disagreement over title of San Leandro Hospital is the cornerstone of the legal dueling between Sutter and the District.

The letter to Sutter CEO Pat Fry appears to offer a starting point in negotiations by setting aside 50 beds at St. Rose to be operated by ACMC for acute rehabilitation. Far more stern language later, though, points to the county playing hardball regarding the current makeup of the ACMC board, which it maintains the power to appoint trustees.

Most tellingly, any fan of professional sports will tell you the dreaded non-denial denial followed by full support of the coach by the owner, is typically the kiss of death. After referencing the county’s power to control the makeup of the ACMC board, she immediately praises its CEO Wright Lassiter and board president Daniel Boggans. “The Board of Supervisors is proud of the work of the authority and has great respect for the leadership of Mr. Bogans and Mr. Lassiter in serving the needs of county residents,” says Chan.

With the arrival of its two newest supervisors, the Board of Supervisors has slowly withdrawn its support for the initial plan to shore up the county’s deficiency in acute rehab beds by utilizing San Leandro Hospital. Critics have long balked at the plan to close the hospital’s emergency room services as part of the previous support by the board in favor of ACMC and Sutter .

The 15-member ACMC board is primarily made up of various former elected local officials, medical professionals and a few city managers. Most notably, the husband of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Dr. Floyd Huen, has been a member of the board since 2004.