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Washington Hospital Places Measure Z on the November Ballot

October 30, 2012

Faced with aging emergency, intensive and critical care facilities, and an increasing number of patients entering the emergency room, Washington Hospital Healthcare System is asking local voters for help.

On Wednesday, August 8th, the Washington Township Health Care District Board of Directors, in a unanimous vote passed a resolution calling for the placement of a General Obligation Bond in the amount of $186 million on the November 2012 ballot. For the average homeowner in Washington Township, the estimated average tax rate would be just under $10 per $100,000 assessed valuation of a home, or about $35 a year based on the average home values in the District.

Several years ago, the Washington Township Health Care District Board of Directors developed a long-term master plan to upgrade all hospital facilities in order to meet California's stringent seismic safety requirements and accommodate the growing population. Washington Hospital has now completed Phase One of this plan, which included the Central Utility Plant and the Center for Joint Replacement, on time and on budget.

Bond Measure Z proceeds will be used to finance the next phase of the master plan: an expanded and upgraded emergency room, intensive care unit, expanded cardiac care facilities, additional patient beds and operating rooms.

In the last decade, the number of visits to Washington Hospital's Emergency Room has increased by 25-percent.

"Our emergency room always operates at or above capacity," says Ed Fayen, Washington Hospital's associate administrator of System Operations and Management Support Services. "Last year, we had more than 52,000 emergency room visits. An expanded emergency department is clearly a critical need, and that's why it is an essential component of our master plan, which is designed to meet the current and future needs of our community." The upgraded emergency room will be approximately four times its current size. The new intensive/critical care unit will have 48 beds, more than twice the size of the current unit.

Fayen notes that the new expanded and upgraded emergency room will position Washington Hospital to apply to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for designation as a Trauma Center. Currently the closest Trauma Center to the Tri-City area is Eden Medical Center.

Washington will be able to provide a large portion of the projected expenditures for this next phase through internal resources and current bond holdings, and is now requesting consideration by the voters for the remaining funding through issuance of General Obligation bonds. The measure requires a two-thirds majority from voters in the Washington Township District. If passed, construction would begin in the spring of 2013 and would be completed in 3-5 years.

The bond measure also requires annual performance and financial audits and an independent citizens oversight committee. Measure Z proceeds will be used exclusively for construction and not for day-to-day Hospital operations or administrative salaries.

For questions or comments about Measure Z, email info@citizens4whhs.com or call 510-790-9806.

Measure Z funds will be spent on essential repairs and upgrades, which will:
* Reduce overcrowding and wait times by expanding Emergency Room facilities.
* Upgrade and expand the aging Intensive and Critical Care Units
* Provide local access to the latest advanced medical technologies and treatments.
* Enable Washington Hospital to apply to become a designated Trauma Center to provide the highest level of emergency care to patients.
* Provide state required upgrades for earthquake safety.