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Finances Dominate Hospital Race

Board of Alameda Health Care District must tackle revenue loss and costly retrofit.

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Four people are vying for three seats on Alameda's Health Care District Board, including a seat being vacated by board member Rob Bonta as he runs for council. The field includes Robert Deutsch, an incumbent and doctor; Leah Williams, who was selected by the board to fill Steve Wasson's seat in December 2009 after he resigned to spend more time with his family; chiropractor Stewart Chen, who had applied for the seat and now sits on the hospital's community outreach committee; and Elliott Gorelick, a pharmacy intern who also had applied for the seat Williams now holds.

The hospital, which leaders brought into the black two years ago after years of bleeding red ink, is now reeling from the loss of a surgical services contract with Kaiser Permanente and the nearly $10 million in annual revenues that brought, and leaders there are working on a plan to pay for state-mandated seismic retrofits.

Williams said she would work to bring new services to the hospital to replace the money the Kaiser contract provided and would work with regulators to slow the timeline of the seismic repairs. Chen said he would look at cost-cutting measures and also do outreach to get more people to use the hospital, and that he would focus more on wellness in that effort. Deutsch said he would work to develop new programs and recruit physicians. Gorelick said the hospital is providing low-quality care for the cost, which includes a $298 per year parcel tax, and should be closed. He thinks an urgent care clinic should be put in the hospital's place.

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