Six vying for hospital board seat

Six vying for hospital board seat

Michele Ellson
Alameda Hospital

CORRECTION, 2:09 p.m. Thursday, July 18: The Alamedan inaccurately listed Alameda Health Care District Board candidate Jon Murphy's job title as "Director of VN and RN programs, Merritt College"; he is an instructor at the college, an official with the Peralta Community College District confirmed. The Alamedan regrets the error.

An attorney, two nurses and a political staffer are among the half-dozen people who have applied for the Alameda Health Care District Board seat vacated by Alameda Hospital critic Elliott Gorelick – a job whose description could see some dramatic changes if a proposed affiliation deal with the county’s medical system is finalized.

The board is slated to interview the candidates and appoint a new member at a special meeting to be held on July 18. The board will receive an update on the appointment process from president J. Michael McCormick at a meeting scheduled to take place tonight.

The candidates include Lynn Bratchett, a longtime nurse and health care administrator-turned-real estate broker who was in the running for the seat Jensen got; Jon Murphy, a recent school board candidate who is also a nurse and, like Bratchett, an instructor at Merritt College; James H. Oddie, an attorney and accountant who now serves as district director for state Assemblyman Rob Bonta; Carmelo L. Roco, a physician for more than 20 years; health care consultant Scott E. Vrchota; and Lily Wong, a deputy district attorney in the Marin County District Attorney’s Office.

All six candidates said they’d bring their skills and experience to bear – legal, political, medical – to preserve the services now provided by Alameda Hospital; opinions differed – or weren’t expressed – regarding the in-the-works deal to affiliate with Alameda Health System, the county’s medical system. Gorelick, who resigned in June after two and a half years on the board, believes the hospital should be closed and the parcel tax property owners pay to support it discontinued; he sought to put the affiliation question before voters.

“The next few months are a critical time for the future of Alameda Hospital with the potential affiliation with Alameda Health Systems (sp),” wrote Oddie, who supports the affiliation plan. “The Board needs a Director who is committed not only to making the correct decision on affiliation, but committed to serving the Board and representing the taxpayers of Alameda beyond the next election cycle should the affiliation be approved.”

Jon Murphy, a nurse who worked at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for 18 years and has a doctorate in educational leadership from Argosy University, said he’d like to look at “all sides” of the discussion around affiliating with Alameda Health System and whether the deal is in residents’ best interests.

“My vision is that the hospital could become self-sustaining and remain on the island to serve our future generations,” Murphy wrote.

Bratchett, who received high marks from board members in his prior try for a seat and has since joined the hospital’s finance and management committee, said he’s familiar with the county hospital’s practices and policies “and can be instrumental in bridging any gaps that may arise in the new venture.”

Roco, who has a private practice in San Francisco and serves as medical director of the Alameda Healthcare & Wellness Center, didn’t offer any comment on the proposed affiliation in his application packet; Vrchota, who worked as a medical device salesman and at a Midwestern hospital system before going into consulting, also didn’t speak to the deal.

Wong, who said it’s “imperative” the hospital remain open, was also silent on the proposed affiliation deal. She called Alameda Hospital “a critical component of Alameda’s economic and social fabric” makes Alameda a more attractive place to settle and is a major employer.

The successful candidate will fill out the remainder of Gorelick’s term, which ends in 2014. The vacancy is the second one the board will have had to fill this year; onetime school board trustee Tracy Jensen, who works as a senior services administrator for the City of Oakland, joined the board in February after Stewart Chen left for a seat on the City Council.

If the affiliation deal is completed, the local board’s chief responsibilities would include signing off on Alameda Health System management’s proposed annual budget for the parcel tax funds, which are to be spent in Alameda, and to manage property and leases the health care district holds. But one representative from Alameda would be added to the county health system’s board of trustees.

In addition to the vacancy update, the board is slated to consider approval of an agreement with the Alameda Hospital Foundation to co-sign for the $1.5 million line of credit Alameda Health System is extending to Alameda Hospital in advance of the proposed affiliation deal, to help the hospital pay overdue bills and cover other expenses. If the deal is not closed within 366 days of the line of credit being issued, the hospital must pay it back.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the foundation would not be responsible for repaying the money if it became due; the credit line would become a priority obligation to be repaid out of hospital parcel tax funds.

The board is also being asked to extend the hospital’s spending authority in lieu of a budget for the new fiscal year, which began on July 1. A budget is expected to be approved in August.

The board’s public session will begin at 7:30 p.m. today in the Dal Cielo Conference Room at Alameda Hospital, 2070 Clinton Avenue.

Candidate profiles

Here’s the quick and dirty on the half dozen candidates who have applied for a vacant Alameda Health Care District Board seat.


Occupation: Assistant director of nursing, Merritt College; broker associate, Community Realty Property Management Inc.

Education: Master of business administration, Northeastern University; bachelor of nursing science, University of Massachusetts

Vision: Affiliation with county system could protect the hospital financially and maintain services, and could also help the hospital attain new technology and undertake health promoting activities and innovative care for the elderly

Quote: “In this potential time of change for the hospital, I think it appropriate I apply for the position as I am familiar with many of AHS practices and policies and can be instrumental in bridging any gaps that may arise in the new venture.”


Occupation: Instructor, Merritt College; director and curriculum developer of RN program, APNI University

Education: Doctorate in leadership in higher education, Argosy University; master of science, family nurse practitioner program, Sonoma State University; associate of science in nursing, Merritt College; bachelor of arts, English literature/liberal arts. St. Mary’s College

Vision: The hospital would be self-sustaining and remain on the Island for future generations.

Quote: “My vision is that the hospital could become self-sustaining and remain on the island to serve our future generations.”


Occupation: District director for state Assemblyman Rob Bonta; board president McCormick works in Bonta’s office, and Oddie is his direct supervisor.

Education: University of San Francisco School of Law, juris doctor; master of business administration, Loyola University; bachelor of science in finance, Indiana University; certified public accountant, state of Illinois.

Vision: The hospital needs to maximize use of its surgical and acute care capacity and partner with other health care organizations, things the proposed affiliation deal appears to do; the hospital must also meet seismic retrofit requirements. The hospital should also play a regional role in providing health care, and has been by adding services such as the wound care center, orthopedics program and the Waters Edge nursing home.

Quote: “The AHS affiliation provides Alameda Hospital with the opportunity to be part of expanded AHS network and serve patients countywide who might otherwise be unable to obtain timely medical care in the county system.”


Occupation: Physician surgeon, Napa State Hospital; medical director, St. Francis Pavilion; medical director, subacute ventilator unit, Alameda Healthcare & Wellness Center; solo practitioner

Education: University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, doctor internal medicine; University of the Philippines, bachelor of science in pre-medicine; University of Santo Tomas, general education

Vision: The hospital should provide excellent, competitively priced care, full-service preventive care and aggressive community education. The hospital should also consider more services for seniors.

Quote: “I believe that as a medical practitioner enhanced by my desire to help, to learn and to partner with all stakeholders, will enable me to assist the Alameda Hospital as it enters a new era of health care delivery. It is my conviction that high quality medical care could still be attained given an innovative approach that maximizes limited human and financial resources.”


Occupation:Principal, ZIA Healthcare Consultants

Education: Master of business administration, University of Minnesota; bachelor of science, University of Oregon

Vision: Alameda Hospital should become a financially viable health care organization that provides high quality care and patient satisfaction around a positive work environment.

Quote: “I consider U.S. Health care to be a major issue in this country, not only for the medical industry, healthcare providers and government, but also for families and patients that seek medical help.”


Occupation: Special deputy district attorney, Marin County Office of the District Attorney

Education: Lewis and Clark School of Law, juris doctor; University at California, Davis, bachelor of arts, political science

Vision: The hospital should set the standard for excellence in the delivery of patient care, patient safety and quality of experience – and remain solvent.

Quote: “I believe that it is imperative to keep the only hospital, with paramedic services, within the city boarders (sp) open, accessible and functioning.”