Hospital board member who had key role in affiliation deal resigns

Hospital board member who had key role in affiliation deal resigns

Michele Ellson
Jordan Battani

Jordan Battani, the longest-serving member of the board that governed Alameda Hospital and a key player in its affiliation deal with Alameda Health System, has resigned her seat. Her resignation was effective May 23.

“It has been my great privilege and pleasure to serve the community of Alameda, and the employees, clinicians, patients and staff at Alameda Hospital as a member of the board of directors of the City of Alameda Healthcare District,” Battani wrote her fellow board members in a May 9 e-mail. “Together we’ve brought the organization safely through a series of significant challenges.”

Battani served the board for seven and a half of the 12 years it’s existed, five of them as president. Two days before she submitted her resignation, she unsuccessfully sought nomination for the district board’s seat on the board of trustees for Alameda Health System, the countywide public health system the hospital joined on May 1.

She said she would have served out her full term if she’d won the trusteeship but that the board’s decision to pick someone else – Tracy Jensen – convinced her that now is a good time for a leadership transition on the district board.

“My work on the board in 2013 was like a second full-time job – and to tell the truth, I'm tired,” Battani said. “So it's a big relief to me that there's a good strong group of board member leaders, and this seemed like a natural transition point.”

Deborah E. Stebbins, who served as the hospital’s chief executive officer and has stayed on to run it on an interim basis until the fall, said Battani played “a very strong role” in pushing the deal forward, helping to draft criteria to judge potential partners and serving as the liaison between the district board and a steering committee made up of leaders from the hospital and Alameda Health System.

Stebbins also credited Battani with providing stability on a board that has seen a lot of turnover and a guiding hand to new members, and with making the board’s activities more transparent and accessible to the public.

“She will be missed,” Stebbins said. “I think Alameda as a community owes her a lot of gratitude for her hard work and creativity.”

A principal at a health care think tank with decades of industry experience, Battani was initially skeptical about the prospect of keeping the hospital open. In her experience, small, standalone hospitals like Alameda’s were struggling to stay open in the Bay Area, which is now dominated by a handful of large care organizations.

But voters’ approval of the parcel tax that supports the hospital convinced her that Alameda could be different, Battani said.

“I began to think there was something really different, and really good about a community that would make that kind of commitment to ‘their’ hospital,” she said.

Battani said she saw a 2006 board vacancy left when Lena Tam was elected to the City Council as an opportunity to help ensure the hospital stayed open, so she applied. She threw herself into the task, remaining on the board as others advanced to the Planning Board, City Council and even the state Assembly.

Battani successfully sought election to keep her seat in 2008 and again in 2012.

Despite her efforts, Alameda Hospital – like other small community hospitals in the Bay Area – experienced major challenges over the years she served on the board, not the least of which was its deteriorating finances. The hospital ultimately fell months behind on its bills, and hospital managers were unable to secure even a loan from the state to make mandated seismic fixes.

For a time the hospital also lost its ability to accept stroke patients, though it ultimately won certification as a stroke center. In 2010, Kaiser Permanente opted not to renew a contract to use the hospital’s operating rooms, a move that sucked $10 million a year out of its bottom line. But hospital leaders cut costs, making Alameda Hospital one of the most efficient hospitals in the state, and initiated new services to help fill its coffers.

In her resignation e-mail, Battani said she was proud of the work the board had done together and of the contributions she’s made, but that it’s time to move on.

“Now, as that affiliation is final and the work of operating as a member of AHS begins, is a good time for a leadership transition,” she wrote.

According to a district press release issued Tuesday, the board will discuss a process for appointing someone to temporarily fill Battani’s seat on June 4; information on the process will be posted to the hospital’s website after the meeting, and a selection will be made no later than July 22.

Voters will choose someone to fill the remaining two years of Battani’s term in November, the release says.

Day to day oversight of the hospital has passed to the Alameda Health System board; the local district board is now chiefly charged with oversight of the system’s budgeting of the $298 per parcel tax that supports Alameda Hospital and of the leases it holds, and the local health care district still owns the hospital property.

Battani credited the efforts of board members and management with making the affiliation deal achievable.

“I'm proud to have been part of this team as we have struggled to expand services, improve efficiency, and above all stay open to serve the community with high quality, safe care,” Battani said.

Comments

tracyz's picture
Submitted by tracyz on Thu, May 29, 2014

Jordan is one of the big reasons we still have a hospital in Alameda. There were many key players, but she is one of them for sure. Thanks, Jordan!

Submitted by nancy hird on Sat, May 31, 2014

I would like to publicly thank Jordan for all the hard work and personal sacrifice she has made on behalf of the citizens of Alameda. It is not easy to face the difficult challenges keeping the doors open of a healthcare resource to serve our community year after year. I hope Jordan takes some well deserved time to do something nice for herself and then returns to help us in some other capacity.