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Hospital critic earns seat on board

Submitted by on 1, November 3, 2010 – 1:30 amNo Comment

During the course of his campaign for a seat on Alameda’s Health Care District Board, Elliott Gorelick offered a unique message: Shut Alameda Hospital down. And while that message didn’t resonate with voters or board members in his previous bids for the job, this time, it seems, voters were listening.

With all the precincts counted early Wednesday morning, it appeared that Gorelick had secured a place on the board, beating out Leah Williams, who was appointed to fill a vacancy in December 2009. He will join incumbent Robert Deutsch, a doctor at the hospital who has said he believes it should remain open, and chiropractor Stewart Chen.

“I think it will be a lot of 4-1 votes,” Gorelick said during an interview late Tuesday night.

A longtime hospital critic, Gorelick has said he thinks that Alamedans need to stop paying a $298-a-year parcel tax for the privilege of having an on-Island hospital which, he believes, provides worse health outcomes than locals might get if they went elsewhere for care.

The hospital is facing a $10 million seismic retrofit bill and also the loss of its surgery contract with Kaiser Permanente, which brought in $9.8 million a year. And Gorelick had said he wasn’t convinced those hurdles could be overcome in a way that would allow the hospital to provide better care.

The pharmacy intern, who has degrees in economics and management science and engineering from Stanford University, said he thinks Alameda residents would be better served by an urgent care clinic, and he thinks the health care district could still play a role in emergency care and wellness initiatives and managing non-acute care facilities like a proposed wound care center. And he said he thinks voters agreed with him.

“I think people are reaching a point that this is not going the direction they want it to,” Gorelick said of the hospital.

Gorelick, who said he’s wondering how he will be received by the rest of the board, said he plans to use his new post to provide visibility for issues he’s raised. One issue: He believes hospital leaders conduct too much business behind closed doors.

He said he plans to have his say by raising motions at each meeting. And while those may peter out after a few months, Gorelick said he’s grateful to have a seat on the dais.

“I’m just happy to have the opportunity to get my voice out there,” Gorelick said.

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