Sutter Health Mum About Plans For San Leandro Hospital After High Court’s Decision

SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL
April 18, 2012 | With the Eden Township Healthcare District’s legal options expended, excluding a somewhat quixotic petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, what comes next for patients and employees of San Leandro Hospital is unclear.

Sutter Health, following the State Supreme Court’s decision to deny the District’s petition to hear allegations of conflict of interest by two signers of the fateful 2008 agreement to rebuild Eden Hospital in Castro Valley, has not made a public announcement in the week since the determination. According to the terms of the upheld agreement, Sutter now holds title to the facility. A Sutter spokesperson did not respond for comment this week.

Among the possible scenarios, Sutter could shutter the facility, which county sources say is unlikely or maintain services for a short period. More likely, though, it may return to its previous intention to lease the facility to the Alameda County Medical Center for acute rehabilitation services. A similar deal was made between Sutter and the county in 2010 and would shift rehab services from the seismically-deficient Fairmont Hospital to San Leandro Hospital.

The proposal angered residents and hospital employees for among other things closing San Leandro Hospital’s usually crowded emergency room. Numerous legislative solutions had been offered over the past two years by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, her predecessor Alice Lai-Bitker and State Sen. Ellen Corbett, who said Tuesday she was disappointed in the high court’s decision, but will continue searching for an amicable solution in the best interests of her constituents.

“I feel strongly that it is essential to the health and well-being of East Bay residents to have fully functioning community hospitals with emergency rooms available to visit. We must keep health care services nearby and accessible,” said Corbett. “I will continue to explore all available options to keep our community hospitals operating in their present capacity.”

But, in language suggesting a more somber tone for the fate of the hospital, Corbett said, “Let this be a clear lesson to hospitals and communities across the state: No matter what they say, corporate interests who parachute in to take over hospitals are not interested in preserving community services but rather are motivated solely by the bottom line.”

Corbett’s use of the past tense regarding San Leandro Hospital was also used by others during a meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon dealing partly with the situation at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward. Two local health care officials called the facility “closed” in their statements to the board.

As fears of the hospital’s imminent closure begin to be realized, so has a fair amount of finger-pointing over its demise centered upon the possibility that no matter the great amount of work by local officials to reverse the horrendous 2008 agreement over the past two years, its appears Sutter will get everything it desired and without much effort.

Former San Leandro mayor Tony Santos, who worked on the issue during his term in office, has also been the bane of the Save San Leandro Hospital movement for his comments perceived to be in favor of Sutter closing the facility. He said the blame for the hospital’s potential closing should be spread to many local officials.

“The problem was too many people were listening to [Eden Township board member] Carole Rogers, including Ellen Corbett,” said Santos. He also said San Leandro Councilman Michael Gregory, whose district the hospital rests, did nothing over the past three years to “move this forward.”

Santos also recounted Sutter’s unwavering consistency in saying what they would do and sticking with it over the past few years. “They always said they were not going to deal with Carole Rogers and they never did,” Santos said. “They said they would not make any comment until the decision is rendered and that’s what they did.”

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