Alameda Hospital

When Alameda Health System assumes management of the financially troubled Alameda Hospital, the list of potential costs they’ll face includes as much as $37.45 million in seismic and other potential repairs, $5 million in loans and a possible $4.3 million hit for shifting workers’ pensions when they become employees of the countywide public health care system.

Alameda Hospital’s governing board approved a deal Thursday that will see a countywide health care provider assume operations of the financially ailing hospital, a move hospital managers have said will keep the its highly desired emergency room open and provide the cash needed to perform near-term seismic upgrades the special district set up to operate it can’t afford.

Efforts to combine the operations of struggling Alameda and San Leandro hospitals with the public Alameda Health System cleared what proponents called a critical hurdle on Friday when Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that addresses workers’ pensions.

Alameda’s financially ailing hospital is preparing to take another hit to its finances, in the form of a retroactive $450,000 payment for Medi-Cal cuts imposed in 2011 as a state budget-balancing move. The cuts are slated to go into effect in January 2014.

The cuts will be painful for Alameda Hospital, its chief executive officer said this week, though not as troublesome as they may have been for some of the state’s rural hospitals and facilities in San Francisco that would reportedly struggle to stay open due to the funding cuts.

Managers at Alameda Hospital are seeking approval of a budget that shows the hospital losing more than $1 million over the last six months of 2013.

The Alameda Health Care District Board will consider approval of the budget, which anticipates $42 million in net revenues and $43 million in expenses, on Wednesday.

“Hospital management have had ongoing financial challenges operating a small general acute care hospital with 24 hour emergency services in this very competitive health care environment,” managers wrote in a report to the board.

A longtime nurse with a wealth of both on the ground and management experience in a range of health care settings has been picked to serve on the Alameda Health Care District Board.

The board on Thursday selected Lynn Bratchett to fill out the remainder of Elliott Gorelick’s term.

“I’m very excited,” Bratchett said of his new volunteer gig on the board, which oversees Alameda Hospital.

The county medical system that Alameda Hospital is effectively seeking to join has conquered – or held at bay – a host of seemingly intractable problems, though it faces fresh challenges with the implementation of health care reform and the pending expiration of a countywide sales tax that supports the services it provides.

CORRECTION, 2:09 p.m. Thursday, July 18: The Alamedan inaccurately listed Alameda Health Care District Board candidate Jon Murphy's job title as "Director of VN and RN programs, Merritt College"; he is an instructor at the college, an official with the Peralta Community College District confirmed, and also serves as coordinator of the college's medical assisting program. The Alamedan regrets the error.

An attorney, two nurses and a political staffer are among the half-dozen people who have applied for the Alameda Health Care District Board seat vacated by Alameda Hospital critic Elliott Gorelick – a job whose description could see some dramatic changes if a proposed affiliation deal with the county’s medical system is finalized.

Residents who attended a public information session Thursday on a proposal for Alameda Hospital to become an affiliate of the county medical system wanted to know more about the financial health of the county system, whether they would continue to pay the parcel tax they’re charged each year to support the hospital – and whether the parking problems that already exist there will get worse.

Alameda Hospital’s board unanimously signed off on a proposal Monday to explore a deal that would see Alameda County’s medical system taking over management and operation of the financially ailing hospital, a deal board members said they’re optimistic about despite the circumstances that produced it. The deal could be closed by the end of this year.

Health Care District Board member Robert Deutsch said the he and other hospital staffers have long marveled at the hospital’s ability to survive on its own as the number of freestanding community hospitals has dwindled.