McCormick, Battani keep hospital board seats

McCormick, Battani keep hospital board seats

Heather L. Wood

Alameda Health Care District Board incumbents Mike McCormick and Jordan Battani beat challengers in a Tuesday night race that may determine the future of Alameda’s only hospital. The hospital lost approximately $1.9 million this fiscal year despite bringing in more than $6 million in annual revenue from a parcel tax approved by voters in 2002, and its financial sustainability is uncertain.

With all but provisional votes counted, McCormick earned 9,661 votes, over 35 percent of the total votes cast in the race. Battani came in second, with 6,634 votes, followed by Tracy Jensen, who received 5,827 votes and Leland Traiman who got 2,129.

"I'm really excited to be able to get back to work on the important work at the hospital and really grateful for everybody who lent me their support both during the campaign and certainly today as they were casting their votes," Battani said.

Traiman, a nurse practitioner, ran for a seat on the board to call attention to what he called “failure of the current Board to keep faith with the citizens of Alameda.” He cited an extensive list of current board shortcomings, including fiscal mismanagement, failure to address earthquake retrofitting, failure to pursue certification as a stroke emergency care facility, and “significant conflict of interest” on the part of board members. Traiman has urged the City to bring its emergency services “up to 21st century standards or, if that is not possible, then, for the safety of our citizens, close the hospital.”

He is not the only person to express concerns about the quality of the hospital’s services and management. Current Board Secretary Elliott Gorelick, a longtime advocate of hospital closure, recently posted on his personal blog that “besides the fact that the District spends 5.7 million dollars of Alamedan’s [sic] tax money every year (plus losses that erode the balance sheet); the Hospital ends up causing death and illness that would not occur if we closed it down.”

Incumbent Board Treasurer McCormick has defended the hospital, stating that the facility provides “high quality health care” and describing assertions that the ER is not “up to 21st century standards” as “haphazard and dangerously lacking in facts.” McCormick, Battani and Jensen have all expressed their opinions that strategic financial planning can generate enough revenue to keep the hospital open and competitive with other Bay Area healthcare providers.

Traiman expected to lose the race. “I raised issues of conflict of interest and poor oversight by the board because I did not want those who were doing such a dreadfully poor job to get a free ride,” he said in a press statement the day before the election. “Like most, my major concern election night is that the president is re-elected and that the Democrats hold the senate. As for my own race, the two incumbents will come in first and second, Tracy, who has run 4 other times in the last decade, will be third and I will be last. I knew that the day I filed.”

The board may need to fill a third seat if Rob Bonta maintains his dwindling lead in the race for the Assembly District 18 seat. If Bonta leaves, the third place candidate in the council race - hospital board member Stewart Chen - would automatically earn Bonta's council seat. The hospital board would then need to conduct an interview process and a vote to fill Chen's empty seat.

But McCormick said he's glad the board can get back to work in earnest, starting with its monthly meeting tonight.

"With the board now stable, we can look forward to the coming changes in healthcare with a stronger sense of strength and unity," he said. "Thanks, Alameda for your trust!"