Supervisors OK plan to rebuild Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley

New hospital, to be renamed Sutter Medical, would open in 2013

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve an environmental impact report that allows Sutter Health to build a new, seismically safe hospital at its Eden Medical Center site in Castro Valley by 2013.

Eden's hospital, as it is generally called, also would likely be renamed Sutter Medical Center-Castro Valley, according to hospital spokeswoman Cassandra Clark. The new hospital will be adjacent to the current hospital, she said.

Nurses, healthcare workers and others urged the Board of Supervisors to vote against the environmental impact report Tuesday, saying that the report doesn't consider the possibility that Sutter might shut down San Leandro Hospital by Sept. 30 and end that hospital's 50-year history as an acute care facility.

Sutter has been operating San Leandro Hospital since 2004.

But Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker said she believes that Sutter's environmental report for a new hospital in Castro Valley and the possibility that Sutter may close San Leandro Hospital are two separate issues and there's no reason not to approve the report.

Supervisor Nate Miley also said he thinks they are two separate issues.

However, Lai-Bitker acknowledged that she has heard from constituents who believe that the two matters are connected and she called for Sutter officials to be more forthcoming about their plans for San Leandro Hospital.

Lai-Bitker said it's important that Castro Valley gets "a state-of-the-art hospital" that meets seismic standards but she said it's also time for Sutter officials "to be up front and honest with San Leandro residents."

California Nurses Association officials, who represent nurses who work at San Leandro Hospital, say that 17,000 of the 27,000 people who use its emergency room annually will end up having to go to county-run Highland Hospital in Oakland due to the severity of their conditions and their inadequate health care coverage.

Union leaders say they support an offer made by Prime Healthcare Services, which is based in San Bernardino County, to lease and run San Leandro Hospital as an acute care facility if Sutter chooses to stop operating the hospital and another hospital operator doesn't come forward.

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