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Alameda Hospital Fights County to Keep Stroke Victim Preferential Routing Rule

Correspondence between Alameda Hospital, and the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, obtained by Action Alameda News, shows that Alameda Hospital CEO Deborah Stebbins is fighting back Alameda County’s attempts to remove a preference to route stroke victims to Alameda Hospital from County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) procedures.

In a letter dated November 19th, to Alex Briscoe, Agency Director at the County Health Care Services Agency, Ms. Stebbins wrote, “We respectfully request that Alameda Hospital retain the present exemption until we receive certification status.”

Previously, Action Alameda News reported that County paramedic procedures have long dictated that paramedics are to take stroke victims in the City of Alameda to Alameda Hospital, even though the Hospital is not a certified stroke center, instead of to a regional stroke center in Alameda County, such as Summit Medical Center.

In her letter, Stebbins noted that Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley secured stroke center certification in August of this year and that Alameda Hospital is “finalizing written transfer agreements between Alameda and Eden for transfer of stroke patients from our Emergency Department and, when appropriate, transfer from Eden back to Alameda following stabilization of the patient.” Stebbins asked the County to leave the preference for Alameda Hospital in County EMS protocols for another six months while the Hospital pursues primary stroke center certification from the Joint Commission.

The tussle goes back at least to July, 2007, when then-CEO of Alameda Hospital Stuart Jed wrote a response to Dr. James Pointer, then-Medical Director of the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services Agency. When Dr. Pointer wrote to Alameda Hospital indicating his intention to change EMS destination policies for patients with stroke symptoms, Mr. Jed wrote back, “We find your letter and request to be inappropriate” and “…to change EMS policy that would direct EMS transports to go to either Alta Bates or other such designated hospitals, could be a violation of the law and if acted upon, could result in litigation.” The City of Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors, then-Alameda City Manager Debra Kurita, and Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, were noted on the letter as having been provided a copy of it.

Action Alameda News contacted Supervisor Lai-Bitker by e-mail, asking, “Did you take any action on receipt of these letters? Either to support the Alameda County medical director efforts to change policy, or to maintain the status quo in favor of Alameda Hospital?” Lai-Bitker responded “Yes, it was my understanding at the time that the Health Care Agency Director took care of it.”

At press time, the County’s decision on changing the preference for Alameda Hospital was pending.

6 comments to Alameda Hospital Fights County to Keep Stroke Victim Preferential Routing Rule

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  • Barb

    People should write to the Board of Supervisors and let them know how they feel. Being taken first to Alameda Hospital, which is unqualified to properly handle stroke victims, then taken to Eden, and returned to Alameda Hospital, once the patient is stablized sounds ludicrous. It is going to cost lives at the most and mental and physical functions of stroke victims at the very least. It is one thing to be forced to subsidize a less than state of the art hospital facility with our tax dollars – and another to be forced to lose lives of loved ones that could otherwise have been saved, in order to further subsidize that same facility.

    How is Alameda Hospital going to come up with the money to earth quake retrofit the buildings up to current state law for hospitals? Force all Kaiser patients to go to Alameda Hospital, before going to Kaiser for anything? This Hospital is in deep trouble and lowering the standard of medical care is the only way it can keep its staff working on the island.

  • […] Alameda County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has oversight of the Alameda Hospital District (AHD).  Why then, in 2007, did Alice Lai-Bitker not exercise her authority to protect 500+ stroke victims per year in the City of Alameda?  Why did she not engage the weight of her office to 1. support the County EMS director who was making every effort to implement best EMS policies equally throughout the county (for which the AHD threatened a lawsuit) and 2. protect the residents of Alameda city?  See today’s news article here. […]

  • DHL

    WHY would our elected AHD board members think it makes sense to spend any part of the $5.7 million of public funds they vote to levy on us each year on a lawsuit against a County EMS for doing what’s right? For putting into place optimum EMS policies? There is one possible answer: profound depravity.

    Why would Lai-Bitker do her job supporting the County EMS director and exerting influence over the hospital board, correcting their pernicious actions? There is one possible answer: cronyism.

    Where’s the payoff? Somewhere these people–who are making these inimical decisions–are benefitting…

  • Yes, it’s almost hard to believe this level of malfeasance. Then again, Robert Deutsch, MD who practices out of Alameda Hospital was appointed to the Board mid-term when someone else (another doctor, I suppose), so he could run as an incumbent, the usual tactic when you want to stack the deck against a democratic process. It didn’t work for Leah Williams this time (another appointee), which is sweet.

  • Oh, and looky here – the current board president, Jordan Battani, was also appointed before “running unopposed.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/inalameda/detail?entry_id=77909

    That makes 3 of the 5 – that we know of. No wonder Leah Williams attacked Gorelick: she should have been a shoe-in.

    Let’s ask Battani some really good questions…

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