I am writing to you regarding the possible closure of San Leandro Hospital.
As you may be aware, San Leandro Hospital is a general acute care hospital serving resident of both Oakland and San Leandro. A large percentage of the patients are elderly Medicare patients who have used the hospital for years.
Since 2009, the community and local leaders have been waging a battle to keep Sutter Corporation from closing the facility.
The closure of San Leandro Hospital would endanger lives and leave the City without access to an emergency room. Although Sutter promised in 2004 to keep the hospital open for twenty years, in 2009 they exercised an option to purchase from the Eden Township Healthcare District and expressed their intention to close the facility. No less than four entities have come forward since then with options to keep the hospital open, but Sutter has been unwilling to negotiate any option that would keep the emergency room open.
With all local proposals thus far having been exhausted, the future of San Leandro Hospital now rests with the Department of Healthcare and the State Legislature under your regulatory and statutory authority over non-profit hospital corporations.
There are several upcoming important decision points. Sutter has recently applied through the Department of Managed Care for a Knox Keene license to operate a regional HMO. The application is currently pending. Additionally, if Sutter should give notice to Alameda County of its intent to close San Leandro’s emergency room, a local impact hearing will be held by Alameda County’s EMS district within ninety days of the notice. As required by state law, this hearing is solely to gather information regarding the potential impacts of an emergency room closure. After the hearing, the decision regarding closure will be made by the State Department of Healthcare Services.
I ask you, with the greatest urgency, to use your oversight and legislative authority to take whatever steps may be necessary to stop the closure of San Leandro Hospital. A possible first step would be to convene a public hearing prior to further consideration of Sutter’s request for a Knox Keene amendment. Another possible option is urgency legislation to increase requirements before a non-profit hospital is allowed to close a facility.
Unfortunately, too many communities in California, including Marin, Santa Rosa, San Francisco and San Leandro have become victims of Sutter’s corporate regionalization and closure policies. Furthermore, Sutter is under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office on possible anti-trust issues and is the subject of a lawsuit enjoined by your Insurance Commissioner regarding overbilling for services. Some question if Sutter should continue to qualify for a “non-profit” status since in 2009 they cleared $463 million in excess revenue.
The community is counting on you to take action at the earliest possible date. As always, I am available to provide any information or local support that you deem appropriate. Thank you in advance for your timely support.