ALCO Supervisor Wilma Chan
SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL | After years of ambivalence by Sutter Health to even negotiate with Alameda County or the Eden Township Healthcare District over San Leandro Hospital, it approached Supervisor Wilma Chan on its own last February, she said Monday.
Chan was in San Leandro Monday night to update the council on details of a plan to save San Leandro Hospital from closure, whereby Sutter Health transfers title of the facility to Alameda Health Systems along with a one-time $22 million subsidy for operations.
“They called and said we’re ready to talk,” Chan told The Citizen. In the subsequent months, Chan said the community was able to get a far better deal than one offered late last year that included Sutter leasing the hospital to AHS, but without any money for operation.
A letter of intent to begin negotiations between Sutter and AHS through July 1 was signed last week. If the framework of the current proposal is agreed to, the transfer of the facility could occur as early as this October.
Following over four years of uncertainty whether the hospital and its emergency room would stave off closure, Chan, who was elected back to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in the middle of the controversy, admitted she wasn’t always confident it could be saved.
Chan said sometimes the battle felt like a “hopeless cause.” She added, “I didn’t necessarily feel like it was going to work.”
Nonetheless, members of the San Leandro City Council praised Chan for her efforts. “You have taken a situation thought to be impossible and made it possible,“ said Councilmember Benny Lee. Councilmember Jim Prola was more pointed. “Without Wilma this would not have happened.”
Despite any unforeseen problems hampering the current proposal from being approved, how multiple entities continue to fund operations at the hospital is still unknown. Sutter Health says it lost up to $2 million on a monthly basis over the past two years at San Leandro Hospital. In addition, a second prong of the current proposal includes the Eden Township Healthcare District pitching in a one-time $20 million subsidy to fund the second year of operations.
Already low on revenue, the District, which no longer has a hospital to run, may have to sell off some of its real estate assets. Chan said San Leandro city officials met with a few members of the District’s elected board of directors early Monday.
A parcel tax, either led by the District or the city, has also long been a possibility for funding the hospital. Chan says the county is also looking to offer a ballot measure reauthorizing Measure sometime in the near future. However, she said, last year’s foundering performance by a county-wide zoo parcel tax, gives them pause for concern.