Hospital board picks Duke for open seat

Hospital board picks Duke for open seat

Michele Ellson
Alameda Hospital

The Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors unanimously picked Kathryn Sáenz Duke on Wednesday to replace Jordan Battani – at least for the next few months.

Duke will hold the seat at least through the November election, when voters will decide whether she will complete the second half of Battani’s four-year term.

Duke, whose resume includes experience as a litigator, researcher and nonprofit director, was selected over three other applicants for the volunteer directorship. She said she wanted the chance to serve on a board whose work could draw on her education and training and that she looks forward to the opportunity to help manage the hospital’s shift from standalone organization to part of a broader countywide health system.

“This is clearly a time of great change for the Alameda Health Care District,” Duke said.

Duke served for eight years as the director of Medicine for People in Need, or Medpin, a nonprofit that helped uninsured Californians obtain medicines, and was also the principal consultant to the state Senate Select Committee on AIDS at the height of the AIDS crisis.

She has also worked as a legislative staffer for the California Medical Association and for the state and as a researcher for the University of California, San Francisco’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, analyzing data on the impact of managed care on health care providers and uninsured people. She holds a law degree and a master’s of public health from the University at California, Berkeley.

Duke bested retired judge C. Richard Bartalini, doctor Carmelo Roco and nurse Susan Hauser for the board position. She said she wanted to acknowledge the quality of the other candidates for the board seat.

“I think it speaks well for the community of Alameda that there are other talented, well-equipped people who are willing to step forward and serve,” Duke said.

Her appointment comes on the heels of a deal that put the countywide, public Alameda Health System in charge of managing Alameda Hospital’s day-to-day operations, a deal the hospital’s leaders said was needed to save the financially failing facility. The deal puts the health system’s trustees in charge of operational details; the local board will manage the properties the health care district owns and leases and will retain oversight of roughly $6 million a year in local parcel tax funds.

In her application package, Duke said she would he “honored” to be part of the board as the hospital navigates the path from independent entity to piece of a larger organization, and she expressed an interest in reaching out to the public to ask how they think Alameda’s parcel tax funds can be used to meet the community’s health care needs.

She is one of three board members appointed to their roles over the past two years after elected members moved on. Tracy Jensen came aboard after former board member Stewart Chen won a City Council seat, in 2012, while Lynn Bratchett was picked to fill the remainder of Elliott Gorelick’s term after he resigned.

All three members will be facing voters in November, along with Robert Deutsch, whose seat is also up for grabs.


Submitted by Louis (not verified) on Tue, Jul 15, 2014

Wonder how much this hospital board will meddle with and cause more fiscal mismanagement with the Alameda Health Systems operation?