Thursday’s Letter to the Editor

In the Alameda Sun, here.

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Corrected version to the Sun’s version is below. They changed the crude oil spill date to 2009. In fact, the crude oil spill in our estuary took place on November 2, 2010, as I originally wrote.

Hospital board making the decision

Editor:

Although I exposed the 2007 substandard Alameda County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) stroke transport protocol in an October op-ed in the Alameda Sun (Vote Medicrats Out,” Oct. 21), kudos go to Mayor Beverly Johnson, Interim City Manager Anne Marie Gallant and Alameda County EMS Director Dale Fanning who all worked quickly — overriding the hospital’s protest — to get this changed in under two months. As of Dec. 1, our ambulances transport stroke victims to certified stoke centers. Record time, I’d say!

The reason the stroke protocol was changed is because Alameda Hospital is not a stroke center, i.e., it’s not appropriate for ambulances to take stroke victims to Alameda Hospital. Federal and state stroke prevention and response standards dictate this, and it’s based upon the soundest of medical sciences.

People need to know that the recent statement made by Alameda Hospital CEO Deborah Stebbins explaining that “the hospital will still get other stroke patients … who are outside the four-hour window in which drugs that reduce the symptoms of stroke may be administered” makes no sense. Intravenous (IV) drug therapies are only effective the first four hours after a stroke. Interventions that work at or after four hours can only be found at a certified stroke center: intra-arterial tPA and mechanical embolectomies. Also, there are several kinds of strokes; for some types, IV drug therapies are not appropriate. This is why a comprehensive stroke center is so important for all stroke victims.

Now I don’t know which is worse, the fact that “island stroke victims caught in the middle” may have been seriously harmed during the last three years. Or the fact that the hospital leadership (CEO and board) knew of this protocol, created business strategies around it, and recently staunchly defended it in attempts to stop the county from removing it. Hospital board members are our elected officials, Stebbins is the CEO they hired.

This is a clear-cut case where our elected officials are not making decisions in our best interest. Alamedans need to wake up from their longtime, culturally ingrained and endemic hospital ticklefest: the Alameda Healthcare District should serve our best interests and not the survival of the hospital at any cost.

Lastly, I’d like to tip my hat to Liz Williams who is the maven of public records requests — she and I often work together on the 2009 FISC fire, the Nov. 2, 2010 crude oil spill and the Nov. 4, 2010 illicit crude oil transfer by the Marine Starlight company that filled our lungs with toxic air…

— Denise Lai

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About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

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