SAVE SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL | A commitment by the Eden Township Healthcare District to help subsidize the short-term operations of San Leandro Hospital was unanimously approved this week even as the facility’s future remains in serious doubt following the transfer of title to property from the District to Sutter Health just three weeks ago.

The plan approved by Eden Township Board of Directors Wednesday offers a projected $779,000 over two years in general funds to a potential multi-entity subsidy to run San Leandro Hospital in its current model as a general acute care hospital with emergency room services. The proposal is based upon the District’s projected cash flow for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and would entail it contribute approximately $261,000 the first year starting in June 2013, followed by roughly $518,000 in 2014.

No specific deal, though, from either the Alameda County Medical Center–believed to be in line to operate the hospital–the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, or the City of San Leandro is publicly known. After Wednesday’s meeting, ACMC Chief Operating Officer Bill Manns said he could not comment on whether or not any proposed plan includes Sutter leasing the hospital, which it official gained title Sept. 28, to ACMC.

Manns also denied the specificity of any plan being for only two years, as referenced by the District board. Any plans to operate San Leandro Hospital in its current form, said Manns, must include an annual subsidy between $2 million-$4 million and require other government entities to provide assistance, in addition to the District’s pledge. The multi-million dollar subsidy figure has been generally accepted as fact over the years by most public officials.

However, comments made Wednesday cast doubt over whether any short-term deal to rescue San Leandro Hospital is more of the same obfuscation from some county officials and Sutter. When Manns was asked by Eden Township Director Rajendra Ratnesar about the efficacy of a long-discussed “hybrid model” at the hospital, including general care, emergency room services and rehab services, he said the plan was not financially feasible, according to their modeling. “Part of the challenge with that requires building out approximately 12,000 square feet and the capital costs associated with that are fairly significant,” said Manns. “And so it reaches a lot longer to reach your break-even point.” To include acute rehab at San Leandro Hospital, Manns said, would require the initial subsidy to be higher.

The comments run counter to Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan’s encouragement to feature the hybrid model in an effort to save the hospital. “We strongly encourage Sutter to approve and provide financial support for this option, or to provide another feasible option to keep the hospital open,” said Steven Jones, Chan’s district director, referencing the hybrid model. “We reject proposals by Sutter to transform San Leandro Hospital into a rehabilitation-only facility, as this does not fit the needs of our San Leandro community.”

Mike Brannan, a representative for the California Nurses Association, encouraged the District to participate in the plan to subsidize operations at San Leandro and said of ACMC,“If that’s their commitment, I think we need to take them at their word.” Sutter’s continued presence in the future of the hospital still hovers over any deal, said Brannan. “The problem, of course, is once again, Sutter Health,” he said. “They have been the problem with the good-faith efforts this board and many others in the community have had through the last years for keeping the hospital open.” Brannan also called for a commitment longer than two years from ACMC and added there is skepticism any proposed deal between ACMC and Sutter even exists. “It is my understanding there is no firm commitment from Sutter Health to turn the facility over to ACMC, or to turn it over without some serious strings attached,” said Brannan.

However, while the future of the hospital still remains in serious doubt, there is now worry about the Eden Township Healthcare District’s prognosis for surviving as a government body following its defeat in state court to Sutter over title of San Leandro Hospital. The resolution of damages arising from the Sutter lawsuit also ties the District’s hands in furthering their financial support for any plan to keep the hospital’s doors open. “I can state, in my opinion, this board is in a Catch-22,” said District Board of Directors Chair Carole Rogers, “We don’t know what our resources can be if the lawsuit were to come to a conclusion.”