The Flywheel

Program for April 13, 2007

Fifty-year plus members re-introduce themselves

Second in a series in which the old-timers present their Who Am I's (dusted off and polished) to the younger crew. Story-telling at its best. Don't miss it.


Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez George Egan rang the bell to call the meeting to order and then asked for a moment of silence for world peace. Rhonda Harris led the pledge of allegiance. Pam Jones had this thought for the day: “The nice part of being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs.”

Rotarians with Guests

  • Markku Pelanne was joined by his wife, Mary.
  • Werner Schwarz had his wife, Leah, with him.
  • Nick Despota’s guest was his wife, Nel.
  • Jerry Feagley introduced his son, Brad.
  • David K invited Bill Koziol as his guest.

Sunshine Report

David K passed around a sympathy card for members to sign for the late Lovie McIntosh, Lesa McIntosh’s mother. It’s hoped that no news is good news regarding the continuing recovery of Elof Granberg after his knee-replacement surgery. And it’s great to have Werner back!


  • Richmond Rotary has donated $700 to the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) and will be serving dinner each night during the week of April 9-13. Sign-up’s have been completed and Herb Cole passed around the assignments.
  • David Brown said to save the date of Saturday, July 21 (scribe’s B-Day), as the first annual Richmond Rotary Regatta Race to the Keg. Destination: Angel Island. More info to follow.
  • David also advised of a Wednesday, July 18, joint meeting with Berkeley Rotary at His Lordship’s restaurant on the Berkeley waterfront. Chances are that CA politico, Bill Lockyer, will be the speaker.

Special Events

  • Erle Brown asked Dan Tanita to stand up in special recognition both for his “excellent” jokes as Club President 15 years ago and, more importantly, for having earned the Paul Harris Plus-Three Award.
  • Rafael Madrigal was welcomed as a new Club member, having moved recently from Tucson, AZ, where he was in Rotary. Welcome, Rafael!


Don Lau handled recognitions.

  • Tom Butt was belatedly recognized for being 63 on March 23, a birth date he acknowledged sharing with Don Hardison. Tom couldn’t remember for sure but believes he had a good time on his birthday.
  • Herb Cole had a B-Day on April 2, having missed April Fools Day by a mere 35 minutes, according to mom.
  • Ralph Hill did it up big for his wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Oakland’s Lake Merritt with a layover in Emeryville.
  • Dan Tanita received national recognition by the Center for Citizens Initiative for his volunteer efforts in organizing a Russian dentists’ visit a few months ago after receiving a desperate call for help from SF Rotary #2 (where his wife is a member). Dan then proudly tipped his hat to Richmond Rotary for its self-sufficiency in doing all that was necessary to make the recent Russian architects’ visit such a success.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Leslie Levy offered happy dollars for an appreciative email received from one of the recent Russian architect guests who thanked her for the “constant attention and human attitude”.
  • Werner Schwarz said he’s happy to be anywhere!
  • Ted Abreu has happily returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, including Singapore and Vietnam, where he was involved in distributing wheelchairs for Rotary. He participated in a particularly noteworthy session where 60 wheelchairs were unpacked, put together, and given away in a record-breaking 45 minutes.
  • Herb Cole had happy dollars for his being 69 years young.
  • Paul Allen had mixed dollars for the adventure of rediscovering bachelorhood while his wife and kids are out of town.
  • Jon Lawlis was happy about his daughter Alyssa’s 18th birthday and also about his upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta with his son, Nicholas.
  • Don Lau had happy dollars for his 24 years with the YMCA.

Raffle Results

David K’s guest, Bill Koziol, had his ticket drawn and he pulled a white ball.

The Program

Dr. Tim Batchelder: Hospital Services in West Contra Costa County

Jim Young introduced the Physician in Chief of Kaiser Permanente in Richmond, Dr. Tim Batchelder, who had the delicate task of talking about hospital services in West County, where everyone’s generally aware of the serious financial challenges facing Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo (DSP).

For their part, Kaiser believes a stable and strong healthcare system in West County is in everyone’s best interest, including theirs. If DSP were to close, Kaiser does not have sufficient space to handle West County needs, which means some hospital services would need to be sought in out-of-area facilities. While he believes there are threatening circumstances at DSP as far as keeping it open, Tim said there are things that can be done. Still, no comprehensive list of recommendations was outlined today.

Tim reviewed some historical background, including Tenet taking over DSP in 1997, the Nurses strike in 2003-04, termination of Tenet’s lease of DSP in July 2004, bankruptcy, etc.

After the state provided a financial infusion and Kaiser itself donated $3 million, DSP financial control was assigned by the Joint Power Authority to Contra Costa County, which is now working out what will, hopefully, be a plan to ensure that DSP stays open.

As for Kaiser’s situation, it closed and then reopened its Richmond hospital in the mid-to-late 90’s with a new ICU. Operating rooms were opened in 2000 and Emergency Department services advanced to full status the same year. Beds, ICU, Operating Rooms, and emergency services are now at full capacity at Kaiser-Richmond, where medical staff operates in a combined manner with Kaiser-Oakland.

In October, 2008, Kaiser plans to open a new 38-physician medical center in Pinole to better serve West County.

With its healthcare system focused on prevention, Kaiser patients have fewer hospital admissions and shorter stays, on average, as compared to DSP. DSP also has a higher proportion of Medicare and Medical patients, who generate lower payments for services. Medical payments are particularly low in comparison to DSP’s fixed costs. And then there are uninsured patients who represent a not-so-small share of emergency services use.

Tim concluded by saying that Kaiser-Richmond is subsidized through the Kaiser system and is fully secure. He said DSP will need supplemental funding. From the perspective of an armchair quarterback, one of the keys to DSP survivability may be implementation of a streamlined list of sustainable service offerings.

- Rotating Editor, Scribe, etc: Tom Waller