FAIRFIELD — One mayor has withdrawn his endorsement of Vacaville’s Kaiser Permanente hospital getting Solano County’s only level II trauma center, while the other six have not.
Kaiser and NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield are competing to get the level II status. The Solano County Emergency Medical Services Board of Directors is to make the award Thursday based on a recommendation by a panel of medical experts. It meets at 9 a.m. at the Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.
Earlier this week, Kaiser Permanente put out a press release saying all seven mayors in the county had endorsed its bid to get the level II trauma center. Rio Vista Mayor Norman Richardson in an email to NorthBay Healthcare said Wednesday he had withdrawn his endorsement.
“I feel both duped and kind of foolish,” Richardson said Wednesday when contacted by phone.
Rio Vista is poised to lose its only doctor in town and Richardson previously approached Kaiser about locating a medical facility in Rio Vista. The same liaison he’s been working with called Richardson recently and left what Richardson described as a “time sensitive” message.
When Richardson returned the phone call, he was asked about endorsing Kaiser as the right choice for the level II trauma level facility. He said he wasn’t given a choice between NorthBay Medical Center, the other facility in the running for the trauma center, and Kaiser. He thought NorthBay was no longer in the running. Richardson said he asked if Fairfield Mayor Harry Price was endorsing Kaiser.
“When he told me Mayor Price was endorsing (Kaiser) that made my decision,” Richardson said. “I respect Harry. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt his city. I followed that like a little sheep.
“Next time when I do endorsements, I will be a little more careful and check it out,” he said.
Richardson said that he was cared for by a NorthBay neurologist after a stroke in 1999.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday evening, though he has made no announcement on the trauma center issue since making his endorsement other than to clarify his rationale for backing Kaiser’s bid.
Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez on Wednesday said he had gotten several nasty emails about his endorsement of Kaiser. He’s been a member of Kaiser for 34 years, he said.
“It’s just that my three children were all born at three different Kaiser hospitals by C-section,” Sanchez said. “I had no problem with Kaiser. They had top-notch service.”
Sanchez noted that Kaiser hired Vacaville City Councilwoman Dilenna Harris as a public affairs manager. She had him meet with Max Villalobos, CEO for the Kaiser Permanente Solano and Napa, Sanchez said. Sanchez invited Kaiser to make a presentation to the City Council a month ago.
“I can’t fault Kaiser for being more aggressive in stating to the public and public officials and elected leaders, ‘Here we are, we are qualified, we’d love to have your endorsement,’ ” Sanchez said.
Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy said he’s been a Kaiser member for more than 40 years. He said he’s sorry some people are upset with his endorsement, but said he was just stating a personal feeling. He didn’t mean for it to appear he was representing Vacaville, Hardy said.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t get clarified,” he said.
Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor said the Kaiser Vacaville hospital is closer to his city than NorthBay Medical Center.
“I think both hospitals are very competent and have excellent staff,” Batchelor said. “My reason for supporting Kaiser Permanente’s application is we have a number of residents in Dixon who have Kaiser. Basically it was the close proximity should anybody in Dixon need to have use of the level II trauma center.”
Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson said she’s been a Kaiser member for a long time and has family who are members. She likes Kaiser’s approach and how they follow up. She wasn’t approached by NorthBay and was happy to add her name to Kaiser’s list of supporters, she said.
Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis, also a Kaiser member, said he think the Vacaville hospital is better situated to provide the care and cover most of the patient needs in the county. Kaiser serves the most patients in the county, he said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.