Next Tuesday, July 14th, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will be discussing the future of San Leandro Hospital. Prior to Tuesday, it is important that we contact the Supervisors and let them know that the planned closure of San Leandro Hospital by Sutter Health will have a significant, negative impact on public health in Alameda County.
Below is email message I sent today to the Supervisors. Please craft your own message or feel free to use the arguments I made in your message to the Supervisors.
The email addresses for the Supervisors are:
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I have been told that not all Supervisors read their email on a regular basis. Therefore, the list includes the chief of staff for each Supervisor.
Please forward this message onto friends and family across the county, and add your city to your message. It is important that the Supervisors see that residents throughout the county are concerned about this issue.
Now is the time to speak up and influence the decision of the Supervisors. Thank you for your support of San Leandro Hospital.
San Leandro Hospital provides the primary acute care in San Leandro, a city of 80,000. The emergency room at the hospital annually serves over 25,000 patients from San Leandro, Oakland, Hayward and other communities.
As you are aware, Sutter Health operates San Leandro Hospital and has announced its intention to close the facility on September 30, 2009. Another healthcare provider, Prime Healthcare, has made a viable proposal to takeover San Leandro Hospital and continue acute care services. However, Sutter Health is refusing to cooperate.
Instead, Sutter Health is seeking to sell the facility to the Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC). ACMC, in turn, has stated its intention to close the emergency room at San Leandro Hospital and transfer the rehabilitation center currently at Fairmont Hospital to San Leandro Hospital.
Closure of San Leandro Hospital will have a sharp, negative impact on public health in San Leandro and across the county:
1) San Leandro Hospital employs over 500 persons who live throughout the county. The loss of these jobs would come at the worst possible time for our county economy. Unemployment in the county stands at nearly 12%, and the county government is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis.
2) The loss of the emergency room at San Leandro Hospital increases the likelihood hospitals in Oakland, Castro Valley and Hayward will go on diversion at peak times, jeopardizing patient safety. When a heart attack or stroke occurs, every minute is precious. In turn, as acute service capacity is taxed in the middle of the county, a negative, ripple effect will be felt in areas to the north (Berkeley and Albany) and south (Newark, Union City and Fremont).
3) While to date most persons that contracted the swine flu have recovered, over 170 persons have died in the U.S., including two in Alameda County. The first wave of 1918 flu too caused few deaths. It was then followed by a different form of the virus that killed 50 million persons worldwide.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has warned state and local officials to plan for the worst-case scenario of the virus reappearing with renewed strength this fall. If the swine flu should return in force, thousands of county residents will require hospitalization. Alameda County will need every hospital bed it has right at the time Sutter plans to close San Leandro Hospital.
Accordingly, I request that you keep San Leandro Hospital open. I recognize that Fairmont Hospital is need of a seismic retrofit. However, you should direct ACMC to either solve the earthquake safety issues at Fairmont Hospital or continue to operate the emergency room at San Leandro Hospital along with offering rehabilitation care. ACMC should not solve one problem by creating another.
Alternatively, you could direct ACMC to rescind its offer to Sutter Health and allow Prime Healthcare to negotiate with Sutter Health for transfer of operations at San Leandro Hospital.
Thank you for addressing this important public health issue for our county and ensuring that emergency and acute care at San Leandro Hospital continues.