Tracy Jensen, Alameda Health Care District Board
Tracy Jensen, Alameda Health Care District Board
Why do you want to be on the Alameda Health Care District Board?
I grew up here in Alameda and I consider it a privilege to give back to my community whenever possible. Being raised in Alameda prepared me for success in graduate school, and later as a legislative staffer and Medicare policy analyst in Washington, D.C. When I came home to Alameda in 2000 several community leaders who I had known since my youth encouraged me to use my experience to support the community. Thirteen years of working closely with Alameda’s elected leaders, educators, and business leaders has shown me how critical Alameda Hospital is to our community. The initiative to recognize Alameda as one of the “100 Best Communities for Youth,” creation of the “Let’s Move Alameda” program to combat childhood obesity, and development of award-winning stroke and wound care services are key examples of how the Alameda Health Care District has positively impacted our community.
I am proud to have served in leadership roles in a number of local community service agencies, including the Alameda School Board, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the Alameda Soccer Club, and the Alameda League of Women Voters. In these positions I have always looked for ways to support the health of our community through new programs, outreach and partnerships with other agencies. I led the Alameda schools to develop enforceable anti-bullying initiatives, and a comprehensive wellness policy for students and staff. As an appointed member of the health care district board I worked hard to accomplish the affiliation with Alameda Health System in order to provide Alameda residents with a full range of acute care and emergency services. If not for a thoughtful, committed district board that understands the healthcare marketplace and knows the residents of Alameda, local access to acute care providers and services could be eliminated. I have the experience and skills to move the district forward, and protect the critical community resource that is Alameda Hospital. I want to continue to serve on the board to ensure that the Alameda Health Care District continues to provide programs and services that meet the needs of Alameda residents.
If elected, what are your top three priorities as a board member?
There are many opportunities for Alameda Health Care District, but the first priority must be to ensure the safety of patients and staff. That is why the partnership with the Alameda Health System is so critical – because it provides funds for the immediate $12 to $15 million in seismic repairs that will keep the aging hospital open, safe and accessible. I am committed to using the seismic improvement project as an opportunity to improve the efficiency of the historic facility by replacing outdated systems to make the hospital as green as possible. As I did when on the board of the AUSD, I will direct management to recycle at all points in the purchasing and distribution system, and ensure that vendors use recycled materials whenever possible.
Another priority is to move forward with the partnership between Alameda Health Care District (Alameda Hospital) and Alameda Health System to ensure access to healthcare services for all Alamedans. Many Alameda residents who formerly received care on an emergency basis at Highland Hospital now have health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act/Covered California and the ability to access high quality routine, preventive and acute care services in Alameda. The Alameda Health Care District and Alameda Health System partnership provides an opportunity for Alameda residents, including seniors and families, to access high qualify providers and services at Alameda Hospital.
Finally, I will make it a priority to get input from Alameda residents about the services and programs that they was to see in the Alameda Hospital system. Do Alamedans want to have obstetrics back at Alameda Hospital? Should we have more programs and services for seniors? As a member of both the health care district board and the Alameda Health System board, I have the unique opportunity to analyze the expansion of healthcare services in Alameda services and the ability to ensure that the needs of Alameda are a priority for the Alameda Health System.
What do you bring to the position?
It is important to know that I was one of four applicants to a vacant seat in 2013 and I was appointed to that seat with the support of the full board. Since then I have worked with my colleagues to ensure that our valuable Alameda Hospital remains open by establishing a partnership between Alameda Health Care District and Alameda Health System. My effectiveness and ability to work towards a common goal was demonstrated when my health care district board colleagues selected me to represent the board to the Alameda Health System board.
I have more than 20 years of public policy experience in federal, state and local government. In the 1990s I used my position in the federal Medicare program to lead health care policy development and to implement program changes – including the dramatic expansion of Medicare managed care. My accomplishments at HHS included drafting regulations to implement legislation, identifying policy changes necessary to expand health care coverage, and advising the agency’s leaders about healthcare opportunities and threats. Before leaving the Department of Human Services in 2000 I was chosen to implement the new Healthy Families program in the Office of Vice President Al Gore, where I established executive-level partnerships across federal and state agency lines.
In 2002 I ran for and was elected to my local school board, where I led the district for eight years. I am proud to have led the Alameda schools to develop enforceable anti-bullying initiatives, and a comprehensive wellness policy for students and staff. As a member of the board of the Alameda County Community Food Bank I oversaw the expansion of fresh produce distribution to more than 50 percent of all products. In all of these efforts I have demonstrated the ability to compromise, to identify alternatives, and to seek creative solutions to difficult problems. I have the experience and skills to move the district forward, and protect the critical community resource that is Alameda Hospital.
What do you think is the role of the board post-affiliation?
The Alameda Health Care District Board must continue to be to support the operation of the acute-care Alameda Hospital and the availability of a comprehensive emergency department. In doing so the board should identify the threats and opportunities in the changing healthcare marketplace to identify programs and services that will best serve the community. One of the primary roles of the board will be to ensure that the partnership with Alameda Health System is sustained, and that our partner adheres to all of the provisions of the agreement – including but not limited to the completion of seismic improvements and retention of acute care and emergency services.
It is also a critical role of the board to work closely with elected state and local leaders to pass legislation to support our community hospital. The board should continue to seek input from the community about effective and appropriate programs and services.
In the wake of the affiliation deal with AHS, what role does Alameda Hospital play in meeting the health care needs of Alamedans and others, both as part of the community and AHS? What kind of services should the hospital, and the district, be providing to Alamedans?
Despite the 2002 passage of a parcel tax of $298 per residence, and the establishment of several new revenue-producing health care services, the Alameda Health Care District has only been fiscally successful through partnerships with other healthcare providers. The first of these partnerships was with Kaiser, which gave Alameda Health Care District much-needed operating revenue in exchange for providing Kaiser surgeons access to underutilized operating rooms. When that partnership ended in 2010, Alameda Health Care District was once aging in need of a partner to support the emergency and acute care services which are reimbursed at a relatively lower rate. The new and unique partnership between the Alameda Health Care District/Alameda Hospital and the Alameda Health System will secure the survival of the acute care and emergency services that are critical resource for the Island of Alameda – now and into the future.
The Alameda Hospital is a comprehensive healthcare provider, with a certified stroke center, a cardiac care unit and an intensive care unit on site, and experienced emergency physicians. This resource is critical to the health of all Alameda residents, regardless of their health insurer. I know that it is only through the partnership between Alameda Health Care District that the Alameda Hospital emergency department can remain available and accessible to Alameda residents.
As a member of the Alameda Health Care District Board I will continue to reach out to the community to identify the services that the hospital should be providing, and I will ensure that the needs of Alameda residents are a priority for the Alameda Health System.
What challenges and opportunities do the hospital and health care district face today?
The primary challenge that the Alameda Health Care District faces today is ensuring that Alameda Health System meets its obligations. The seismic work must be completed on time and within budget, and there can be no disruption in the healthcare services that Alamedans rely on – including the emergency department and acute care beds.
The opportunities will be for the Alameda Hospital and the health care district board to identify the needs of Alameda residents, and continue to be viewed as a competitive health care option by providing comprehensive, high quality services.