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Battani’s Mis-leading Response to Op-Ed

Dear Editor,

On October 27th you published a commentary by Jordan Battani, President of the City of Alameda Health Care District. Ostensibly it was a reply to Denise Lai’s earlier commentary regarding the systemic failure of Alameda Hospital. Ms. Battani’s reply was cleverly constructed to dodge the issue which is that Alameda Hospital, as presently constituted, provides sub-optimal care to the people of Alameda who pay for that “privilege” to the tune of 5.7 million dollars per year.

First, Ms. Battani invents a straw-man argument and puts it in Ms Lai’s mouth. Ms Lai stated that the appalling quality of the care she received at Alameda Hospital is indicative of a systemic organizational dysfunction that is endemic to the Hospital. Ms. Battani tries to say that the allegation was that “the recent financial and operational improvements at the hospital have been achieved at the expense of patient care and safety.” To begin with, it is quite a stretch to see how a hospital which only needed a 3.5 million dollar subsidy to break even last year, could not even get the local bank to offer it terms for a relatively modest upgrade of its imaging system, and has no plan as to how to pay for the state mandated seismic retrofit can be considered financially sound. So that is not what Ms. Lai was saying; she was putting the case forward that an organization that could so fundamentally botch her care has a problem that permeates from top to bottom. Ms. Battani actually bolsters that argument by this false argument and others detailed below.

Second, Ms. Battani suggests that Alameda Hospital has NOT manipulated the emergency transportation protocols for ambulance service to increase revenue at the expense of patient care. This is fundamentally a lie and the reason I was compelled to run to join the Hospital Board. If you examine the original discussion when Alameda decided to create its own EMS separate from the County and examine the financials of the Hospital, it is obvious that revenue for the Hospital was and is certainly part of the consideration in those past and current decisions. There is no medical reason that the protocol should be to go to Alameda Hospital first.

Finally, Ms. Battani tries to suggest, again misleading the reader, that a host of agencies and institutions that have checklists for adequacy of care are the same thing as a statement of optimal care. If that were true, then Alameda Hospital could proudly point to public scorecards that showed better outcomes than alternative institutions. The Hospital cannot provide that information because it does not exist. It does not exist because Alameda Hospital does not report those measures publicly. One suspects that they keep this information hidden because it would confirm what every research study has found – that there is almost no chance that outcomes are better at Alameda Hospital.

It is possible that the additional harm may only impact one out of 1000 cases, but what if that one is you or a family member? Is there any reason to take that chance when a simple change to the protocol, a protocol controlled by Alameda Hospital, would eliminate the additional risk?

My four years on the Board promises to be interesting as I try to inject some reality into an organization which through massive effort has managed to insulate itself to the degree that the President of the Board can write such a deceptive letter.

— Elliott Gorelick, Alameda

3 comments to Battani’s Mis-leading Response to Op-Ed

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