Mar. 14, 2012 | Health care districts in San Mateo and Contra Costa County are part of roughly 30 such agencies with large amounts of assets without an actual hospital to oversee, according to a report last weekend in The Bay Citizen and Bay Area editions of The New York Times. The article includes the situation at the local Eden Township Healthcare District where once plentiful grants were freely given until about two years ago when the program was suspended by the District’s board of directors.
The report makes a fine point on whether these health care district’s should be stockpiling assets without a facility to operate at a time when the state’s health cares system is on the brink of disaster, but the situation in the East Bay does not warrant inclusion in this debate.
In fact, if the Eden Township had not allocated the over $2 million in legal fees over the past three years and adopted a far more conservative approach to its grants process, the district could well be the 31st such entity in existence without a hospital to its name.
On at least two occasions in the past year, the board of directors have narrowly declined to reinstate the application process for community grants. A surprising minority coalition of directors on polar opposite sides of the debate over San Leandro Hospital and Sutter Health has been unsuccessful in bringing back the program.
District board chair Carole Rogers, who has been vociferous in support of the hospital, and Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar, a man so disliked that the board and union brass urged him to resign in 2010, have both voiced support in resuming the grant process. On both occasions, the board sided with its suspension in lieu of continuing uncertainty over their legal battle with Sutter Health over title to San Leandro Hospital.
The Bay Citizen’s inclusion of the Eden Township in this article is not an accurate depiction of the situation in the East Bay. Understandably, the healthcare district is in the center of extreme flux. It is understandable that they would suspend their grants process during these times. And to remove any remote sense of impropriety over the subject is to recall statement’s from various county officials who call the District’s legal fees a bargain over the past two years. Instead, of spending between $6-$10 million on annual subsidies for San Leandro Hospital, the District has spent over $2 million over two years to keep the facilities doors open through the courts.
When it comes to the Eden Township Healthcare District, it’s best to follow The EAST Bay Citizen and not the younger, unrelated Bay Citizen.