At a press conference on Aug. 26 at Sojourner Truth United Church in Richmond, Oakland Civil Rights Attorney Pamela Price and a panel of four – Registered Nurse Maria Sahagun, Dr. Otis E. Rounds, Dr. Humayun Tufail, and Rev. Andre Shumake – updated the community on their fight to save Doctor’s Medical Center.
< p>Alawsuit filed by Price on behalf of the DMC Closure Aversion Committee (DCAC), representing several doctors nurses and patients, is directed to the entire Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and individually Supervisor John Goia and Eric Zell the Director of Contra Costa’s Health Department and the President of the Board of the West Contra Costa Health District (WCCHD), who have proceeded with plans to close the hospital for months despite the public outcry.
“We believe that John Goia and Eric Zell have a conflict of interest that led to none of the funds from Chevron to be allocated to DMC,” said Price. “They have been diametrically opposed to DMC, and we will begin to establish that they did act with malice towards this community and this hospital.”
“Chevron is a powerful multinational corporation. (It) has billions of dollars and has its interests. Eric Zell is the president of the governing body of DMC and over the WCCHD,” said Price. Funds were available and could have been used and they were not allocated.”
“When you remove the lifeline, it will have a catastrophic impact on the community,” said Emergency Room RN, Maria Sahagun, who was in a series of committee meetings vying for funds to assist DMC.
Dr. Otis Rounds, on staff at DMC for 32 years and chair of DCAC, said that they are fighting on a legal, legislative and judicial field and recently presented in Sacramento to Assembly member Nancy Skinner, Assembly member Loni Hancock and others.
Rounds stated that through a review of records from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPOD)that provides financial stats on California area facilities, proved DMC is even more viable financially than the Contra Costa County Regional Medical Center.
According to the report, Otis stated that in 2012, DMC’s net income was, $140 million, the regional hospital’s was $200 – 250 million with DMC having $650,000 in revenue and $500 million in deductions and $150 million in expenses.
The regional hospital had $245 million in expenses and a $99 million net operating margin loss. DMC had a $31 million net operating loss and is only allowed a parcel tax of $14million, giving DMC a $97 million dollar net income for 2012.
“The regional hospital had a $99 million dollar loss, but shows a net income of $10 million dollars because the Board of Supervisors gave them a $110 million of “non-operating contributions,” said Rounds.
Rounds further shared that over the last 10 years, ending in 2012, the regional hospital received $840 million from the county and DMC has only received $142 million from parcel taxes over the same period of time.
“There is a huge disparity financially and both of the hospitals serve a similar population of the poor, uninsured and underinsured, Secretary Dooley said no monies are available; however through AB 39 Assemblyman Skinner is attempting to designate DMC as a public hospital and receive a one-time $1 million dollars due to the crisis.”
Local clergy member and founder of the Richmond Improvement Association, Reverend Andre Shumake shared his thoughts.
“Stop the medical apartheid that is taking place in West Contra Costa County. It is a travesty that our elected officials have allowed this hospital to come to this point. How many more people have to die?
Shumake referred to Richmond resident Booker Williams who died Wednesday, August 20 at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley from an apparent heart attack.
He was taken there as part of the DMC ambulance diversion despite the family’s requests that he be taken immediately to Doctor’s Hospital. Plaintiffs, the family and the community are concerned that the diversion to Alta Bates may have contributed to, if not caused his untimely death. Simultaneously, hospital administrators continue to accelerate plans to close the hospital and shut down as many services as possible before the Court hearing on Aug. 27.
“District hospital board and elected officials it has been stated and presented that should this hospital close or should there be a diversion of ambulances to other facilities it would be a detriment to the community. My prayers go to the gentlemen that lost his life,” said Shumake as he urged the hospital board and elected officials to “do the right and humanitarian thing.”