Press Release

RNs Condemn Sutter Plan to Close San Leandro

Hospital Chain’s Decision to Abandon San Leandro Should Prompt San Francisco Officials to Doubt Sutter Promises on St. Luke’s

Press Availability: 9am, Thursday April 26, 2012, City Hall room 278

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today condemned a coming announcement by the Sutter corporation that it plans to close San Leandro Hospital by August 1. The closure violates a pledge Sutter made in 2004 when taking over management of the facility in 2004 that it would maintain hospital care in San Leandro for 20 years.
Sutter’s abandonment of San Leandro “should also be a huge red flag for San Francisco officials who have heard Sutter’s empty promises about maintaining hospital services at St. Luke’s hospital in San Francisco,” said CNA Co-President Zenei Cortez, RN.
In its rush to push through a controversial project at Cathedral Hill in San Francisco, Sutter’s California Pacific facility has made the same 20-year promise to continue services for the Mission District community adjacent to St. Luke’s, “assurances that should now be regarded as worthless, intended solely to neutralize the substantial opposition to Cathedral Hill,” said Cortez.
St. Luke’s RNs will join dozens of healthcare, housing, and neighborhood activists at a San Francisco Planning Commission hearing on Cathedral Hill Thursday. The activists, part of a broad coalition of more than 40 San Francisco organizations, are opposing Sutter’s deal with Mayor Ed Lee which they say poses serious air quality, traffic congestion, and other environmental hazards, as well as undermining services at St. Luke’s.
Sutter’s behavior across the Bay “shows how poorly this corporation can be trusted,” said Cortez. Managers at Sutter’s Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley told RNs Tuesday night of plans to announce the closure of San Leandro as soon as Tuesday, May 1 – the same day Sutter RNs plan to hold a one-day strike at eight Northern California Sutter hospitals, including Eden and San Leandro. Nurses are protesting more than 100 proposed reductions in patient care and RN standards as well as Sutter’s ongoing cuts in patient services across the region.
RNs will host a town hall meeting in San Leandro Tuesday night, May 1, at 4 p.m. at the San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 E. 14th Street, for community residents to discuss ways to fight the closure.
“Sutter’s plans to slam the door on the tens of thousands of patients who need hospital care in San Leandro, East Oakland and other neighborhoods served by that hospital are a clear expression of the Wall Street, profit-focused mentality driving Sutter,” said Cortez.
“It’s no coincidence to us that this closure will cause particular pain in low income and minority communities that hospital has served for years. Of 27,000 patients seen in the San Leandro emergency room last year, more than 60 percent came from East Oakland, patients who will now need to drive many miles over crowded freeways, such as I-880, for needed hospital care,” said Cortez. “Medical redlining, targeting low income communities, and services it deems not profitable enough, has been a guiding philosophy of the Wall Street executives at Sutter for far too long.”
San Leandro is the latest in a long line of services Sutter is slashing, despite rolling up over $4 billion in profits since 2007, and handing its chief executive Pat Fry at 215 percent pay hike to over $4 million a year.
It’s not even the only cut in care this week. Sutter also announced plans to close a pulmonary sub-acute unit at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley, part of the multi-campus Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. The unit serves patients with long term, severe incapacities, some of whom have been there for years.
The walkout Tuesday, prompted by Sutter’s takeaway demands, affects some 4,500 RNs at   Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Lakeside in addition to Eden, San Leandro, and the Alta Bates Summit facilities in Berkeley and Oakland.  
“These takeaways represent the greed and misplaced priorities of Sutter in their ongoing pursuit of profits over quality patient care given by the RNs,” said Alta Bates Summit RN Mike Hill.  “We will continue to fight the cuts by Sutter and defend our profession and our communities.”   
Among the many concession demands at various Sutter hospitals:
·        Eliminating paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection.
·        Forcing RNs to work in hospital areas for which they do not have appropriate clinical expertise, again a safety risk for patients.
·        Huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage for themselves and family members.
·        Limits on the ability of charge nurses, who make clinical assignments for nurses, to address staffing shortages, subjecting patients to the danger of unsafe staffing.
·        Forcing RNs to work overtime, exposing patients to care from fatigued nurses who are more prone to making medical errors.
·        Eliminating retiree health plans.
·        Eliminating all health coverage for nurses who work less than 30 hours per week.
·        Reduced pregnancy and family medical leave, undermining RN families.