April 23, 2012 | Despite the approval last week of a joint powers agreement by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and nearby Washington Township Health Care Distict hoping to stave off bankruptcy at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, the struggling facility is still flirting with another local health care district.

During a meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors, the interim CEO of St. Rose Mac Nakayama told the body the facility would welcome an invitation to their health care district over interest from Washington Township. St. Rose Hospital is a private facility located within the boundaries of the Eden Township District.

“The hospital would certainly welcome becoming part of the Eden Township Healthcare Distict, rather than a district that we are not physically located in,” Nakayama told the board April 18. Nakayama replaced Michael Mahoney, who resigned last month.

In February it appeared St. Rose’s savior would come in the form of a merger with the Eden Township District and San Leandro Hospital. Mahoney appeared before San Leandro residents Feb. 8 detailing the proposal, but the plan suddenly lost steam. The Eden Township board revealed last Wednesday it had planned to vote on acquire St. Rose in February, but tabled the item at the request of executive staff at Washington Township.

The reason for the change is still unclear, but a plan for a joint powers agreement between St. Rose, Washington Township and the county soon emerged. The Eden Township was initially asked to participate, said District CEO Dev Mahadevan, but declined because it did not possess $1 million in unrestricted funds to add to the pot. Budget uncertainty from the then-pending lawsuit with Sutter Health, also played heavily in their district’s thinking, said Mahadevan.

With the intent of the county seemingly on the side of bringing St. Rose back to health by way of the Washington Township District, it brings new questions over the Eden Township’s proposal to place a parcel tax on the November ballot to aid St. Rose. Mahadevan the District has already had initial discussions with noted East Bay political consultant Larry Tramutola, whose firm specializes in the ballot measures.

Colin Coffey, the District’s general counsel questioned whether a parcel tax is in its best interest any longer. “The narrow focus of that JPA would not accommodate your efforts and expenditures today to see if a parcel tax within this district to support St. Rose is viable because obviously the scenario of acquisition or management through a JPA with Washington precludes the parcel tax supporting St. Rose.”

District board member Les Friedman also questioned whether a parcel tax is prudent for the district after the approval of the joint powers agreement. “Somehow we’re involved in looking for solutions, but we’re not at the table participating in those solutions,” said Friedman. He also speculated that the eventually end game to Washington Township’s association with St. Rose will entail the redrawing of district lines to separate Hayward from the Eden Township’s jurisdiction.

Some in the community are also beginning to question whether Washington Township’s relatively low level of financial commitment is commensurate with the amount of power it now wields within the joint powers board. The Washington Township will hold six of the nine seats on the JPA. Its extensive clout comes from just $2 million in funding pledged last month to St. Rose. The Eden Township will hold just one voting member. It nominated Friedman last Wedesday after another instance of potential conflicts of interest reared its head.

Dr. Ronald Hull, who replaced former Dr. Vin Sawhney on the board, said he could not accept appointment to the JPA’s board because he owns a financial stake in a doctor’s group associated with St. Rose. Sawhney resigned from the post because of a spate of potential conflicts of interest. He plans to run again for the seat this November.