Mayor Cutter also questions Eden Township CEO’s pay

By Steven Tavares.

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter excoriated the local healthcare district during a council meeting Monday night for its refusal to further fund San Leandro Hospital.

The hospital, now under the umbrella of the Alameda Health System, lost $12 million during the most recent fiscal year, said James Jackson, the chief administrative officer at San Leandro Hospital. Jackson told the City Council, the hospital’s finances are improving and it expects losses to shrink to about $4.7 million this year. By contrast, during the final year of Sutter Health’s ownership of the hospital, three years ago, it said it lost $47 million.

Meanwhile, San Leandro officials are nearing approval of the third $1 million installment of a three-year subsidy to help keep the facility’s emergency room in operation. Monday’s presentation by Alameda Health System (AHS) was intended to alleviate some nervousness about the hospital’s finances and its future.

“We have no intention of going back on the commitment we made,” said Jackson, referring to the pledge made by AHS in 2013 to keep the emergency room open with help from the city’s funding and an addition $3 million over three years from the county. Jackson assured the council closing the hospital anytime soon is “not an option.”

In addition, a planned remodel of the third and fourth floors at San Leandro Hospital to facilitate acute rehabilitation services will also pad the hospital’s bottom line, said Jackson. However, it may not be operational until at least two years and pending state approval.

The sense of overall uncertainty over the hospital’s future following nearly six years of turmoil is still evident. The hospital was nearly closed in 2009 by Sutter Health only to be kept open through a lawsuit by the Eden Township Healthcare District.

The elected Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors lost the case, but Sutter Health ultimately donated the facility to Alameda Health System, along with a large subsidy. It also vowed to divert the $19.7 million judgment for damages against the District to San Leandro Hospital, but an Alameda County Superior Court judge sided with the District’s hardship claim and ordered the settlement to be paid over 10 years.

Now, there are rumblings the county and various local members of State Legislature are poised to employ a full court press against the District to pay more toward subsidizing San Leandro Hospital. It’s a suggestion the healthcare district’s board has, in the past, strongly resisted.

During questioning of San Leandro Hospital’s CAO, Cutter lashed out at the healthcare district and questioned its function as a government body and the amount of money its pays its CEO, Dev Mahadevan.

“I am quite outraged at what Eden does and how they do it,” said Cutter. “They have a CEO—a person who works part-time—and he makes over $140,000 a year and he gives out $60,000 in grants. However, he can’t see clear to keep our hospital open. That enrages me. For me as a citizen, to pay this money, they should be servicing us and they’re not.”

In the past, criticism of the Eden Township Healthcare District’s paltry grant funding numbers has been levied against it by others, including Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. The District’s Boards of Directors, however, have countered by saying its large legal expenditures during the long court battle with Sutter Healht had depleted its resources for funding eligible health care-related non-profits in Central and Southern Alameda County.

“I’m feeling there’s a lot of urgency here,” added Cutter. “We’ve been talking about it but we’re really not coming to a conclusion.” If no resolution is reach with the Eden Township Healthcare District, said Cutter, she plans to mobilize a group of San Leandro residents, who, she said, is upset and seeking to “demand our fair share” from the District.

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Originally posted at East Bay Citizen.