Health Care CEO Flirts With Another Job While Steering Defunct San Leandro Deal

ACMC CEO Wright Lassiter

HEALTH CARE NOTES | Just as Alameda County Medical Center CEO Wright Lassiter was making the rounds in an attempt to cajole three local government bodies to subsidize his acquisition of San Leandro Hospital, he was also planning to jump ship. Lassiter told a trade Web site covering the health care industry he applied for a position in Dallas, but did not seek the job, he said.

“That was particularly difficult because I’m not unhappy and I’m not looking [for a job],” Lassiter told Health Leaders Media. “My board chair knew about it, but I’m still not talking broadly about it. The fact is, it does create some instability and the last thing I’d like is to create that. I’m haven’t been comfortable sharing about it, but I have talked openly with medical staff and leadership team.”

Lassiter is a Dallas native, who previously worked for the same entity he has applied to, Parkland Health & Hospital System. Although the article speculates a decision on the job could be made in December, a county source says Lassiter’s future at ACMC is, today, still in doubt.

In the lengthy profile of Lassiter and his work and vision for ACMC, he notes interest in San Leandro Hospital rests solely on transforming it into an acute rehabilitation facility and shutting down its emergency room. The timing corroborates letters sent by Sutter Health to Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy that the proposed “hybrid model” for San Leandro Hospital to be subsidized by the city, county and Eden Township Healthcare District was dead on the vine earlier in the month. The correspondence revealed ACMC’s interest in the hospital soured when Sutter offered new financial information stating the facility needed a subsidy 3-4 times larger than previously speculated.

However, news of Lassiter’s possible departure during a time when ACMC is moving to expand comes as a surprise to some in the county, but also raises questions over how forthright Lassiter’s comments to the various boards and council he sought to fund his enterprise at San Leandro Hospital actually were, especially since the plan involved a proposed three year window to test if the subsidy would indeed by successful going forward. It’s not clear whether members of the three entities were aware of Lassiter’s flirtation for another job at the same time in late October he was passing the hat at cassh-strapped boards for a $3 million outlay.

PAY YOUR BILLS The Eden Township Healthcare District is apparently getting the silent treatment from the new operator of St. Rose Hospital, Alecto Healthcare. You may recall the District gave St. Rose and its former management team a short-term emergency $3 million loan in August 2011 to cover its payroll. St. Rose immediately had trouble making its monthly payments and in December 2011 the District sent a notice of default. A deal was struck, but St. Rose still owes the District $1.1 million and St. Rose’s new operator does not want to pay back the loan.

However, the transfer of St. Rose to Alecto is still up in the air. The state attorney general must approve the deal and Alecto’s proposal, which excludes payment of the District’s loan, could muddle the deal. On Jan. 4, lawyers for the District sent a notice of default to Alecto for payment of the $1.1 million plus over $30,000 in unpaid interest and legal fees.

“The District was distressed to learn that despite its long and determined effort to assist St. Rose over the past two years, and despite its conceptual support of the Alecto acquisition and extension of the loan, St. Rose and Alecto have apparently opted to avoid the debt and District’s security by transferring the District’s collateral with no intent to pay the debt,” the District wrote. It also says Alecto misled the District into believing it would repay the loan after acquiring the hospital.

At the health care district’s monthly meeting last Wednesday, its elected Board of Directors made no official move regarding the issue with Alecto and St. Rose, said its chair, Carole Rogers.