Denise Lai, an Alameda resident, says that she went to the Alameda Hospital Emergency Room on a Sunday morning in extreme pain earlier this year, and almost didn’t come out alive. She’s started a Facebook page to encourage people to share their own stories – good or bad – about Alameda Hospital.
Ms. Lai says that the medical staff there failed to follow procedures for administering a narcotic (for the pain) and allowed her to languish for three hours with dangerously low blood pressure, and that the Emergency Room doctor’s written report was full of errors, describing her as a child who had arrived with a parent. She is a married middle-aged adult who arrived at the ER with her husband. She says that the ER physician sent her home with “the wrong and insufficient cocktail to be able to maintain my own at home,” and ended up in worse pain than when she was first seen, and that subsequently, she was taken to Alta Bates Hospital for treatment. She says she feels morally obligated to both alert people to the hazards that may exist at the hospital and to learn more: she believes there may be more stories like hers.
Lai told Action Alameda News, “When I went to emergency room at our local Alameda Hospital this summer, every single team failed, and it nearly cost me my life. It was very serious. Since then every single person I talk to has had their own personal nightmare at the hospital. Every single story details problems from substandard medical services that, like my experience, crosses all teams and exacerbates their suffering. I have been frustrated that no one in Alameda talks about the hospital; had these friends and neighbors told me their stories [earlier], I would never have gone to the local hospital nor would I have been subjected to the unnecessary pain and agony I experienced that day. So I started a Facebook page for sharing our stories, good and bad (but I haven’t heard a good one yet) so that we can all be better informed. My very real concern is that the hospital is so poorly run that it is a dangerous medical facility. It certainly was the day I went there. People should know this fact so that they make better decisions about their healthcare providers and protect themselves.”
Indeed, there are more stories like Denise Lai’s. On her Facebook page, Dennis Green of Alameda wrote, “I had been taken to Alameda Hospital for years, but the last time, when I was so potassium deficient I was in shock, the nurses, as I was transferred from the E.R. up to the floors, were injecting the potassium too quickly. At first, it just burned, then it seemed to be boiling in my veins. I kept complaining, for I knew from previous experiences, what was wrong. They ignored me. It got so bad, I lapsed into a seizure. I could have had a stroke, or even died from this extreme state.” (Action Alameda News has confirmed Mr. Green’s story with him.) Other people have contributed their stories to the Facebook page as well.
Through a spokesperson, Alameda Hospital CEO Deborah Stebbins told Action Alameda News last week the following:
Thank you for your inquiry. Alameda Hospital takes all complaints seriously and we encourage our patients to provide us feedback, both positive and negative. Our mission is to provide quality and personalized care to our patients and every complaint is seen as an opportunity to improve the care we provide.
Our patients have a variety of avenues to voice concerns and we encourage them to utilize these avenues to provide us feedback. Patients can contact Hospital Administration (814-4000) or the Director of Quality and Resource Management (814-4036). Every complaint brought to the attention of Hospital management allows us to review, investigate, and respond in a timely manner. Unacceptable care can also be reported to the California Department of Public Health (1-800-554-0352), or Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring (1-800-994-6610, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alameda Hospital’s comprehensive Performance Improvement Program provides a framework to continually improve clinical outcomes, operational performance, safety and patient satisfaction. Patient feedback has led to improvements in processes and systems throughout the Hospital. While I’m not able to comment on specific patient complaints, I can assure you that the District Board of Directors, Hospital management, medical staff, and our employees are dedicated to hospital-wide quality improvement.
Quality of care and patient safety are the fiduciary responsibilities of the City of Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors. The Board Quality Committee meets regularly to review continuous improvement data and assure that the measurements, assessments and improvements are consistent with the Hospital’s mission, vision and values.
Like hospitals across the country, Alameda Hospital is working diligently to reduce medical errors by utilizing best practice or evidence based medicine. Our improvement activities are ongoing and evaluated frequently. This allows us to identify initiatives and develop processes that improve performance of both hospital and medical staff. Clearly, the Hospital’s goal is to serve the community effectively, and we are committed to providing safe and quality care to our patients. I want to hear from our patients and members of the community about the care and service we provide.
We also asked Alameda Hospital about the purpose of their recent presentation to the Alameda City Council. The Hospital has it’s own governing body, the The City of Alameda Health Care District Board. Was the presentation a media opportunity for the District in anticipation of future parcel taxes to support the Hospital? (The Health Care District currently raises about $6 million from Alameda property owners through a parcel tax.)
Louise Nakada, Director of Community Relations for the Alameda Hospital responded, “And, yes, you are right, Alameda Hospital has its own governing body. The presentation to the City Council was simply an update about the current status of Alameda Hospital. Open communication with the City is essential as we will be working with the City during our seismic retrofit project and other new program development. I also want to assure you that we have no intention of asking the public for another parcel tax.”
Alameda City Council Candidates Lena Tam and Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft are past members of the Health Care District Board; City Council candidate Rob Bonta is a sitting member of the board.