San Leandro Hospital to Get Renovations, In-patient Rehab Unit

Originally posted in the East Bay Times
February 2, 2018

SAN LEANDRO — The once-embattled San Leandro Hospital is undergoing a $26.8 million renovation as part of a multi-year effort to move in-patient rehabilitation from Fairmont Hospital.

Fairmont Hospital and San Leandro Hospital are both part of Alameda Health System, a public health consortium of five hospitals, including Highland Hospital in Oakland, and four wellness centers.

Fairmont, near Fairmont Drive and Foothill Boulevard, does not meet current state seismic requirements for an in-patient rehabilitation facility but has been cleared to continue skilled nursing operations, Alameda Health Systems Chief Administrative Officer James Jackson said.

“If our facility was no longer here, there would be a real lack of this particular service in the community,” Jackson told the San Leandro City Council at its Jan. 16 meeting, where the topic was discussed.

It’s a need that is particularly pressing, since there are only two other in-patient rehabilitation facilities nearby: The Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center at Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center and Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland’s Pill Hill neighborhood, Jackson said.

The fourth floor and part of the third floor in San Leandro Hospital will be renovated to accommodate 28 acute rehabilitation beds and administrative offices, along with speech, occupational and physical therapy treatment areas. Alameda Health Systems also plans to construct an outdoor rooftop space for patients and medical staff to do rehabilitation work, Jackson said.

The renovations are set to be complete in April 2019 and cost a total of $26.82 million, spread out over 2017 to 2019, he said.

Plans are being considered to expand the skilled nursing unit at Fairmont Hospital once in-patient rehabilitation services are moved to San Leandro Hospital.

“There is a pressing need for skilled nursing beds in the community; we’re under-bedded in this community for that purpose,” Jackson said.

“One of the challenges we have is that patients are often not really sick enough to be in an acute setting but they’re not well enough to go home, or there are mitigating factors that prevent them from going home right away. A skilled nursing bed is the appropriate level of care for them and we often have difficulties in placing them (somewhere) for any number of reasons, so one of the things we’re considering is making more skilled beds in what is currently the rehab unit to help address that need,” he said.

Alameda Health Systems, however, has no intention of scaling down emergency room operations at San Leandro Hospital, an area that was at risk of closing before 2013, when Sutter Health donated the medical facility to Alameda Health System.

San Leandro Hospital was losing close to $2 million a month leading up to 2013, placing the future of the medical facility and its emergency room in limbo, city recreation and human services director Jeanette Dong said.

Several months of negotiations brokered by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan eventually prompted Sutter Health to transfer $22 million and complete control of San Leandro Hospital, including the building, land and equipment, to halt the 93-bed facility’s collapse, Dong said.

Alameda Health System has brought down the average amount of time that people wait to see health care providers from 72 minutes in 2013 to half an hour or less by improving and streamlining hospital practices, Jackson said.

Talking to county Emergency Medical Services and Paramedics Plus employees about services at San Leandro Hospital also helped to raise the average daily number of people in the emergency room to 95, from 70 in 2013, Jackson said.

“It makes the case for why this hospital is important,” Jackson said.

“There was a question, ‘Do you need an emergency room? Do you need a hospital in this city?’ The average daily census was about 25 when we got there and now we’re at 44, and this is with Kaiser having opened up in the city, so God bless them because we need them in the community, but there’s a case to be made for San Leandro Hospital remaining and providing emergency and acute care services,” he said.