Four vying for hospital board seat

Four vying for hospital board seat

Michele Ellson

Four people with more than a century’s combined experience in different aspects of the health care field have applied to fill out the second half of former Alameda Health Care District Board member Stewart Chen’s four-year term, in the wake of Chen’s ascension into a City Council seat.

Lynn Bratchett, Shubha Fanse, Terrie L. Kurrasch and Tracy Lynn Jensen have all applied to fill Chen’s seat on the board, which oversees Alameda Hospital. A replacement for Chen is expected to be picked on January 28.

Bratchett, a registered nurse and business owner, has served as Merritt College’s assistant director of nursing since August 2002 and is also the director of critical care operations for KMA Associates and CCTRNLLC, which provides ambulance transport for critically ill patients.

Bratchett said new technology, health-promoting activities and innovative care for the elderly “is the future cornerstone of Alameda Hospital.”

“Presuming the board is seeking a member who is a community minded professional with visionary potential to participate in tandem with other board members in overseeing the management of a careworn health facility, I think you should consider me,” Bratchett wrote in a letter seeking appointment to the board.

Fanse is an information technology professional who worked for the University at California, San Francisco; Kaiser Permanente; and other organizations. She sits on the hospital’s community relations board and chairs the League of Women Voters of Alameda’s health care committee.

A native of India, Fanse said she can represent Alameda’s Asian community on the hospital board by bringing her understanding of the community’s health care needs. She said she envisions the hospital adding state of the art treatments and specialists and gaining financial stability through new partnerships, and that she’d like to see fair wages and working conditions for nurses and other staff.

“My vision is Hospital emergency services will come out of it’s (sic) current difficulties and will continue (to) provide excellent services,” wrote Fanse, whose references for the volunteer post included Chen.

Kurrasch, who has worked for over 30 years as a strategic and facilities planner, said the hospital’s future will be shaped by federal health care reform and that it already has programs in place to help it manage the fiscal accountability and changes in focus that reform efforts will require.

“For the organization and the District to remain a viable community resource it will need to change with the evolving healthcare delivery system. Unfortunately, many of the details of this ‘change’ remain unknown,” Kurrasch wrote. “For the hospital to remain viable means the leadership and the Board must be nimble and flexible and and ready to respond to change. ‘Business as usual’ will no longer suffice.”

Kurrasch has served on the hospital’s community relations committee since 2008 and is set to join the Alameda Hospital Foundation board this month.

Jensen, who ran unsuccessfully against incumbents Jordan Battani and J. Michael McCormick for a hospital board seat in November, touted her eight years as a school board trustee and experience in helping to draft earlier federal health care legislation while working for the federal Medicare and Medicaid program in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s.

Jensen, who has been Oakland’s senior services administrator since 2000 and who has also served on the hospital’s strategic planning workgroup, said the hospital board needs to identify funding for millions of dollars in state-mandated seismic upgrades and that she would work closely with CEO Deborah E. Stebbins to ensure stability of physician and professional contracts.

“The Health Care District must respond to changes in the marketplace, to regulatory changes arising from the federal Affordable Care Act, and to demographic changes related to an aging population,” Jensen wrote. “If I am appointed to the Board I will work to ensure that local uninsured community members have options for coverage and care, and I will support the efforts to attract physicians that will take Alameda Hospital to the next level of quality care.”

The board opening comes at what may prove to be a critical juncture for the hospital, which faces an uncertain future as health care reforms are rolled out and a nail-biting wait for a few more years to make state-mandated seismic fixes it doesn’t have the money to pay for. Like others in the region, Alameda Hospital has been struggling financially, posting millions of dollars in losses over the last dozen years.

But the hospital could also be at a turning point, as new services its managers put in place in an effort to put its books back into the black add to its bottom line. The Waters Edge nursing home has earned the hospital $1.2 million since the hospital began managing it last summer, while the hospital’s wound care program has earned $54,000 more than expected so far this fiscal year. And the hospital’s new orthopedic program could also see a boost as nearby San Leandro Hospital has shut its own program down.

The hospital ended November with a gain of $13,000. It has incurred losses of $651,045 since July, the start of its fiscal year, unaudited financial documents reviewed by the board on Wednesday show.

The applicants are undergoing background and reference checks and are invited to attend an applicant’s conference on January 23. Interviews and the appointment will take place at a special public meeting that will begin at 7:30 p.m. January 28 at the hospital.