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Sutter Moves to Reduce Public Accountability, Slash Hospital Beds

Caregivers Denounce Threat to Not Rebuild Eden Medical Center

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Healthcare workers condemned the recently publicized proposal from the Sutter Corporation to abolish public oversight at Eden Medical Center and cut the hospital's number of beds. Sutter is seeking the removal of elected board members from the hospital's governance in exchange for rebuilding it to meet seismic safety standards.

This proposal goes against the spirit of Measure A, the 1997 ballot measure that authorized the Sutter Corporation's takeover of Eden Medical Center. Throughout the campaign for the measure, Sutter officials stated repeatedly that the public's role on the hospital governing board would be maintained.

"The promises that were made to this community should not be taken lightly," said Connie Taylor, who works in central processing at Eden Medical Center. "Sutter knew going in that this hospital would be overseen by the public. Now, they're holding our community hostage to gain total control of our hospital. That's just wrong."

The proposal is buried in an unfinalized "agreement" between Sutter and the Eden Township Healthcare District that also includes reducing the number of hospital beds at Eden Medical Center from 178 to 130. Another clause raises the likelihood that Sutter would shut down San Leandro Hospital in 2009, further limiting the community's access to healthcare by removing another 120 hospital beds.

Despite the size and potential impact of this proposal, news of its existence was first posted to the district's website on Wednesday, after months of secret, back-room meetings. The healthcare district also plans two public hearings for next Wednesday and Friday, giving the public barely one week's notice of this momentous and potentially risky proposal. Additionally, the Friday hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m., when few people can attend.

SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, which represents 325 caregivers at Eden Medical Center, calls on the officials of the board to immediately take the following actions:

-- Postpone hearings on this issue for a minimum of 60 days to allow the

community and state and local elected officials ample time to weigh

its legality as well as its impact on healthcare in the region.

-- The Sutter Corporation must drop its demand that the Eden Township

Healthcare District Board relinquish governance and oversight of Eden

Medical Center as a condition for Sutter to uphold its commitment to

rebuild the hospital.

-- Eden board members should table this proposal and hold the Sutter

Corporation accountable to the commitments it made to voters in 1997,

to maintain publicly elected oversight at Eden Medical Center and

supply significant resources to its seismic rebuilding. This process

should be done in public, with the full involvement of elected

officials, healthcare advocates, caregivers and community


-- Any rescheduled hearings must be publicized at least 10 business days

prior to their actual date. A hearing should be held in each of the

healthcare district's four communities-Castro Valley, Hayward, San

Leandro and San Lorenzo.

The 145,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

CONTACT: Mason Stockstill

(510) 206-8247

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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