A pair of East Bay lawmakers are in a dust-up over how best to keep San Leandro Hospital's emergency room open.
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, stood by and didn't vote Tuesday as state Sen. Ellen Corbett's Senate Bill 196 — which would lengthen the notice given to the state before emergency rooms can shut down and require three public hearings to allow for public input before any potential closure, and of which Hayashi is a co-author — fell one vote short in the Assembly Health Committee.
"Her failure to vote came as a great shock and surprise to me because typically a co-author supports a bill," Corbett, D-San Leandro, said Wednesday. "I have been working tirelessly for a year and half to keep this hospital open. ... I can't even tell you how much blood, sweat and tears I've put into this project."
Hospital workers, labor unions and community residents fear a deal between the county and Sutter Health, whose affiliate Eden Medical Center now leases and operates San Leandro Hospital at East 14th Street and 138th Avenue, would end medical, surgical and emergency room services there. The Eden Township Healthcare District owns San Leandro Hospital, but has ceded much of its authority over it to Sutter; Sutter has a purchase option for the complex, which it wants to sign over to the county, but also has another agreement allowing hospital operations to close on 90 days' notice.
Hayashi issued a statement Wednesday saying Corbett's bill is of laudable intent but falls short.
"The bill language needed more work because in its present form, SB196 does not save San Leandro Hospital's emergency room," Hayashi said in her statement. "It provides for a longer notice and more public hearings regarding the closure of an emergency room, but does not address the immediate situation and does not provide for any stops to the closure. SB196 requires significant amendments in order to strengthen efforts to keep this hospital's emergency room open, including two bills, AB1427 and AB1235, that I have introduced."
Hayashi said she views Corbett's bill "as a valuable work-in-progress" and she looks forward to working with Corbett on the issue.
Corbett replied her bill does address San Leandro's immediate problem and — in conjunction with all the networking she has done with community organizers, Alameda County supervisors and staff members, and others — would've done the trick. "The bill speaks for itself: It forestalls a closure by allowing for more time to keep the hospital open — that's how it stops the closure."
And in a statement issued by Corbett's office, California Nurses Association governmental relations director Bonnie Castillo said it's "shocking that Assemblywoman Hayashi would stall this critical piece of legislation, after she has publicly stated her support for keeping San Leandro Hospital open."
The state Senate passed Corbett's bill in May on a 21-13 vote.