Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 15, 2013

Shut it down?

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

As a part of the Alameda Hospital affiliation discussions the Alameda Hospital Foundation commissioned a phone poll to get a sense of what a sample of registered voters in Alameda (400 people)  felt about the Alameda Hospital in general and the possible affiliation with Alameda Health System (AHS).   The results were, surprising.

I figured at any given time against any issue there’s about 25% of registered voters against that issue.  Sometimes it grows to an unfortunate 34% in the case of parcel taxes for schools, but in general 25% is always sort of a good rule of thumb for the opposition.

Which is why the petition against the In-N-Out is just sort of par for the course for any proposal.  And the burgeoning movement to oppose Ron Cowan’s plans to move the Harbor Bay Club and build the rest of his entitled units there.   So far, just a day in the life of any proposal or just any thing in general.   The thing about it is, people who are against stuff have a much larger reason to speak out against it, folks who are generally supportive or agnostic are more than happy to let things run its course.   Does that mean that only the people who show up and shake their fists are representative of the community at large?   Nope, it just means that the folks who support are not as emotionally invested in showing up to hearings and such.  Anger is a great motivator.  But I digress.

Anyway, my rule of thumb is 25% of registered voters will take the opposing side in general.   For example, Measure D in the last election.   It had all the requisite buzz words: “park,” “open space,” etc.  and still 20% of registered voters voted against it.

So the results from the phone poll were surprising, the way that it was structured is that the poller would, after asking about the voters awareness of AHS and the affiliation in general, would make a set of clarification statements and then ask people how they felt about the hospital, first slide:

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 6.22.04 AM

The percentage that you are keeping your eye on should be the “Definitely Support” and “Probably Support” which combined reflects a little more than 71.5% of those polled.   An overwhelming endorsement.   But you’re probably looking at the 8.3% that said close the hospital.   (That’s what I looked at too)  I was pretty shocked, I assumed that number was much much higher.  See paragraphs above about 25% rule of thumb.

Then after being read a series of positive statement about affiliation such as AHS will invest millions of dollars into Alameda Hospital, etc and so forth, here’s the change in opinion:

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 6.26.46 AM

The percentage of people who were unsure stayed consistent, some of the “Prefer to close hospital” either moved to some level of support or “Refused”, probably “Refused” because the level of support stayed the same between “Probably Support” and “Definitely Support.”  It appears that reading positive statements about the affiliation only serves to strengthen the base moving folks from “Probably Support” to “Definitely Support” but does little to to sway folks that are undecided or gung ho about closing the hospital.

So after reading statements about the parcel tax remaining in place, but not being increased here were the results:

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 6.32.23 AM

Some of the “Not sure” voters either decided, when reminded of the parcel tax, to opt to close the hospital, but the percentage of people who had some level of support rose to 72.3%

And finally when voters were read a series of negative statements about affiliation such as less control over local hospital, bringing in patients from outside Alameda (always a hot button in Alameda!), here’s what the results looked like:

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 6.36.08 AM

11% is the highest percentage reached for people who wanted to close the hospital.  Given that polling is off by 3 or 4 percentage points the range of people against the hospital could be as low as 4% or as high at 15% based on these numbers.   Also, it shows that negative campaigning is WAY more effective then positive campaigning, which we all knew but it’s kinda sad to see it actually in practice.  But in general Alameda Hospital has really strong support.  Of course the affiliation won’t be taken to a public vote, but these polls help place public perception in context.

Finally this is an interesting slide for political wonks in general about what Alameda voters value:

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 6.41.31 AM

Not shocking but “Maintaining public safety” was given some level of higher importance by 88.5% of registered voters.   Education quality was close behind at 85.7% but had a higher percentage of people ranking it as “Extremely Important.”  For the Alameda Hospital specific the “Maintaining access to emergency health care” 78.3% said that it was important.


  1. The post helpfully neglects to add a link to the In-N-Out petition (but does so for the other examples cited).

    There … FTFY.

    Comment by alameda — July 15, 2013 @ 7:17 am

  2. On Alameda Hospital: The first question, which is never asked but should always be asked in these surveys, should be: ” Do you understand the issues surrounding the maintenance of the Hospital?”. next questions “Are you planning to move out of Alameda as soon as you vote in another parcel tax?” “Have you ever used the services of Alameda Hospital?”.
    I found an old 2002 flyer regarding the inception of the hospital parcel tax which cites a letter from Judge Bartalini, written to the Alameda Journal, in which he says he was deceived by the backers of the parcel tax measure and that some 200 original signers had requested their signatures be removed from the petition to put it on the ballot; this after a LAFCo presentation. Hindsight is always 20/20.
    The majority always seems to vote knee-jerk: “hospital = good/no hospital = bad”

    Comment by vigi — July 15, 2013 @ 9:43 am

  3. Like to know what the results would have been if they asked each respondent if they were willing to pay a yearly $300 fee to keep the hospital open.

    Comment by Jack R — July 15, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  4. I was one of the lucky respondents to the survey. They DID tell you about the fee, then ask you again “do you support it now?”. Like most voters, I think I’m a fence sitter on this one. There is definitely a value in having a local emergency room. But tax payers should not have to continue bailing it out to the tune of $300+ per parcel. That’s just unacceptable.

    Comment by Big Johnson — July 15, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  5. There is no ‘fee’.

    Comment by Jack R — July 15, 2013 @ 11:11 am

  6. I think that ALL the information about this affiliation should be presented prior to taking a Poll. All we really know is that this is an option. It sounds like the perfect solution but exactly what are the details. It is a lot like the vote for High Speed Rail. People voted when the cost was $43B but here is later and the cost has doubled or tripled and they haven’t laid a foot of track.

    Comment by frank — July 15, 2013 @ 11:13 am

  7. If we affiliate I am assuming we are stuck with the parcel tax forever because even if the hospital gets in the black on it’s own eventually, which it won’t, we will still need the tax to maintain debt on cash infusion from county for earthquake retrofit. If we end up with a truly viable building and emergency facility which would be operable after a large seismic event I might soften to the idea of continuing to bail out this hospital, but the profits in medical industrial complex, even “non-profit” hospitals, are kind of irksome.

    Comment by M.I. — July 15, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

  8. if we join alameda health system, does it mean gunshot wounds, those who can’t pay their bills, without insurance, etc. all get shipped to alameda hospital rather than highland?

    Comment by E — July 15, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

  9. Dear Lord, #8 has just expressed what I feared would happen. Instead of discussing the merits of the finances, we are going to start obsessing about “those people” coming over here. Answer: I don’t think there is anything to worry about. Highland is a major trauma center with a great reputation for dealing with severe injuries, and is close to where many of the incidents resulting in trauma happen. There is absolutely no point in transporting a victim from East or West Oakland to Alameda when Highland, with better trauma services is closer.

    We already deal with our share of uninsured, as does every hospital, as we have sick poor people right now, right here in Alameda (gasp!). yes we do. They already come to our hospital and are served. I asked at a meeting, and was told that there are no plans to locate clinics in Alameda. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, there will be more insured adults with more choices for where they are served for routine medical care.

    Can we now return to the economic merits of the situation?

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — July 15, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

  10. 8. If you don’t want “those” people frequenting your hospital than you don’t want a hospital because there isn’t one in the country that doesn’t have to cope with exactly those sorts of situations on a daily basis. And believe it or not, some pretty damn fine people are walking around these days without insurance. You might be surprised how many you know are among them. The recession hit hard and, in case you haven’t noticed, not everybody has recovered and many have had to take lower paying or two or three part-time jobs where insurance isn’t offered by the employer. You might want to rethink your criteria for what brands someone undesirable.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — July 16, 2013 @ 10:22 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: