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September 10, 2008 > Local Election Information

Local Election Information

This week's election coverage is focused on the Eden Township and Washington Township healthcare districts. Two seats are contested in each race. Each candidate, listed in alphabetical order, was asked to respond to several questions about their qualifications. Incumbents (Inc.) are noted.

Eden Township Healthcare District, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward and surrounding cities (elect two):

Ronald Hull:
Profession - Podiatrist within Eden Township for 20 years
Reason for running - I have decided to run to bring new ideas and insight to the district.
Biggest challenge - The future of San Leandro Hospital
Primary focus - My primary focus would be San Leandro Hospital; what would be the best decision regarding its future for the community it serves, the employees, medical staff and assuring that it is a self sustaining entity providing state-of-the-art care. Also, to continue responsible funding to help support local programs from the Township District's Community Health Fund that was established in 1998.
Qualifications - To utilize my connections with members of the community whose resources may not have been accessed by other board members. These community connections are the result of living and working in the Township District for almost 50 years. My podiatry responsibilities with Bay Valley Medical Group are part time, allowing time for board business.

Rajendra Ratnesar (Inc.):
Profession - Physician within the district for over 20 years.
Reason for running - I decided to run for another term to see the fruits of the efforts of the present board and expand commitments to the community benefit fund.
Biggest challenge - Finding and retaining providers, such as physicians and nurses and working with other organizations to improve the health of the community.
Primary focus - To find quality healthcare providers for our community, and make health services more affordable.
Qualification - I have served on the board for over 10 years and will continue to support the board to the fullest. I will continue to bring new ideas and share my knowledge and experiences without any reservations.

Francisco Rico (Inc.)
Profession - A physician and anesthesiologist since 1970.
Reason for running - I have been on this board for 6 years. I am running for re-election because many important issues are currently being addressed and I believe I have the historical perspective and experience to make a significant contribution to resolving these issues.
Biggest challenge - The main challenges revolve around the construction of a new hospital estimated to cost $330 million in order to comply with SB 1953 which sets stringent seismic requirements for hospitals.
Primary focus - To assure construction of the new hospital. Under the terms of SB 1953, the choice is between a new hospital versus no hospital at all in our community.
Qualifications - To influence the board, to nurture and grow its resources to provide additional healthcare benefits to our community. The board needs to be better at communicating our problems and actions to the public in order to garner their support for future projects.

Vin Sawhney
Profession - Physician within the district for nearly 30 years.
Reason for running - To be an effective voice for the community on the Eden Township Healthcare District Board.
Biggest challenge - Ensuring that both Eden and San Leandro Hospitals continue to provide much-needed, invaluable, high-quality medical care.
Primary focus - I will work to ensure that the promise by Sutter Healthcare to build a new Eden Hospital is fulfilled and adequate provisions are made for efficient and timely emergency care.
Qualifications - I have been a strong patient advocate and have served as President of the Alameda Contra Costa Medical Association, President of Medical Staff at Physician's Community Hospital, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at San Leandro Hospital and member of the Executive Committee at Eden Hospital. These experiences have given me an excellent understanding of our local issues, community needs, and interactions between the hospital and various stakeholders.

Washington Township Healthcare District, Fremont, Union City, Newark and Sunol (elect two):

Patricia Danielson (Inc.)
Profession - Registered Health Information Professional since 1972.
Reason for running - I decided to run for re-election because I feel that I am a bridge between the clinical elements of health care and the community.
Biggest challenge - The decreasing reimbursement rates of the federal government and insurance companies while maintaining our ability to provide the services that benefit everyone in the district.
Primary focus - To continue to work to ensure that the Washington Healthcare District provides the services and programs that benefit our citizens. ... I want to see that our board meetings continue to be televised along with the presentation of Quality Reports. ... I will continue to focus on ensuring that quality care is given to all patients. ... I will continue to work within the community to reach out to our residents and to maintain our existing partnerships. ... Since our emergency room is the second busiest in Alameda County, I want to continue our efforts to decrease the amount of wait time and improve efficiency.
Qualifications - I have a demonstrated passion for health care and our health care system. I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the Washington Healthcare District, the excellent staff and physicians. I carry this attitude to the board and hospital staff.

Ravi Johal
Profession - A practicing attorney and employee for the Law Firm of Leon Mezzetti, Jr in Fremont, Calif., for two and a half years.
Reason for running - To bring the Washington Township Healthcare District back to one that embraces the community as a whole, providing them with the opportunity to express their viewpoint and perspective, unfiltered and free of any retribution from hospital administrators.
Biggest challenge - Changing how health care is provided to the community and district, as well as changing methods of cost management.
Primary focus - To reinstate the true spirit of a Community Hospital through improved accessibility, transparency and accountability in its operations.
Qualifications - I believe the Board composition is out of balance with incumbents who have been on the board for a very long time. While they bring a lot of value to the board, I think that it is time for a change. Frankly, similar to how Nurses at Washington Hospital are prevented from running for the Board of Directors, physicians currently on Washington Hospital Medical Staff should be prevented from running as well. It is counterproductive to the notion of shared governance, where one aspect of the Hospital is represented on the Board and others are not. I strongly believe my participation will strengthen the board in view of my legal experience and insight into the community's expectations of the hospital.

Evelyn Li
No response.

William Nicholson (Inc.)
Profession - Medical Doctor; practiced cardiology and internal medicine at Washington Hospital since 1990.
Reason for running - I see our current board as very strong and effective in it's oversight of the district. The strength of our board comes from its stability and experience, and that all board members believe in the district's "Patient First" ethic.
Biggest challenge - There are many challenges facing our Healthcare District which operates in a complex, competitive, and ever-changing world of medical innovation, insurance reimbursement and regulation.
Primary focus - To ensure that patients receive the highest quality healthcare in a safe environment.
Qualifications - The best way to improve health is for patients and families to fully understand their health issues, diseases and treatment options. ... I am especially pleased with the success of InHealth, Channel 78. It carries important health information directly to everyone at home. ... We show both our District Board and our Bond Oversight Committee meetings on InHealth. ... We must continue our work to make it easier for district residents to know the challenges our district is facing, to see how well we are meeting these challenges, and to give us input and feedback on our progress. It is vital that the public knows what is going on, especially since the future of Washington Hospital and our Healthcare District depends on voters making informed choices on Election Day.

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