Documentary slams Washington Hospital

Some candidates for public office roll out a web site or put up signs. Evelyn Li helped make a movie. The Fremont cardiologist, who has been warring with Washington Hospital for several years, today helped unveil a documentary film, “Life for Sale,” which alleges that hospitals intentionally discharge patients who still need care, and retaliate against doctors who to fight the discharges.

The roughly 90-minute movie will be playing at the Cinedome 8 Fremont from Friday through next Thursday. Li, who is running for the Washington Hospital Board of directors in November and served as a film consultant, says that Washington Hospital administrators targeted her for dismissal after she canceled a discharge order for a patient too sick to go home.

Although the filmmakers said the movie is about the hospital industry in general, most of the specific allegations of improper care and administrative heavy handedness were directed at Washington.

A former and current Washington doctor said in the film that hospitals pressure doctors to release patients too early and financially reward doctors who play by hospital rules. They also said that hospitals use peer review as a weapon against doctors who defy hospital orders.

The movie mentioned the $500,000+ salary of Washington CEO Nancy Farber several times. Li was portrayed as a saint.

For the web site click here:

And here is the trailer:

Matt Artz


  1. In the early days of Fremont, I remember people trying to raise money for Washington Township Hospital.
    I thought it was a public hospital. What do the elected board of directors do.
    I remember the ex chief of surgery making accusations of Washington Hospital having much higher rates then neighboring hospitals.
    It all seems to be a mystery, but nobody seems to care!

  2. I would avoid a hospital like the plague. Hospitals are only good for “emergency” situations. I used to work in a hospital environment…I did not like what I saw.

    People need to take more responsibility for their health instead of turning it over to a medical system that is clearly in for the profit only. Doctors shouldn’t be paid until the patient is healed. All medical entities need to drop their fees. These are some of the reasons I’m against Universal health care…there will be a lot of graft, it’s like the fox in the henhouse scenario.

  3. Wow Lois. When you’re sick and dying, do you really want a doctor to withhold treatment and care? Seriously, what doctor would work for free? Would you work in whatever your profession is for free?

  4. I had some questions about the Argus article and wanted to ask some of the elected Washington Hospital Directors, but there is no email addresses for them and no way of contacting them, it seems that they have built a wall around them. You can only contact the clerk.
    They are elected public directors, this is really beginning to smell very bad!

  5. This should be very interesting given the fact that Dr. Evelyn Li has been proven to be incompetent on more than one occaiaion. I have worked in healthcare for approximately 30 years and have seen the results of her incompetence. People should view this movie with a grain of salt.

  6. Doctors these days look towards Money to help their patients. If you have none then they can give a shit about you. I had a life threatening reaction in which I was not able to breath properly nor eat anything and yet the next day the doctors sent me home!!!! I came back to the hospital within hours after fainting!!!

    Lois you said people need to take more responsibility over their health. So easy for you to say you probably never had anyone die in a hospital because the doctors said if they keep the person on oxygen longer nothing will change, or maybe you’ve never dealt with a life threatening situation where you MUST go to the hospital to get treated. In my opinion doctors should get paid for number of patients dealt with not time spent with each one until they are healed.

  7. Coyote Bill said:

    “They are elected public directors, this is really beginning to smell very bad!”

    Last time I check, their board meetings are open to the public. Have you ever attended one?

  8. Bonnie, Public elected officials should be accessible without going to the meetings which can be quite intimidating. You are apparently one of the employees at Washington Hospital.
    All public elected officials including City Council members , Ohlone College trustees, etc, etc, are accessible by email
    Are the Washington Hospital Directors special.
    What makes you come to the conclusion that it was something negative I wanted info on..
    Something does not smell right Bonnie.

  9. Coyote Bill,
    I’m not sure what the requirements are for elected board members to be available by email. I do know that the men and women that sit on this board are members of the Fremont Community and if I wanted to speak to one about an issue I would probably be able to track them down. Not saying that this is the way it should be just what I would do. I’m also not sure what you mean by “something does not smell right”. Are you referring to this board? The movie? What exactly doesn’t smell right?

    I didn’t come to any conclusions about you wanting info on something negative. I was only pointing out that as residents of the District we have access to these board members at their monthly meeting.

  10. Bonnie –

    It’s interesting to see how often on this and other BLOGS that the pro-status-quo factions want to encourage those who have conerns about how things are currently run to access established politicos and civic leaders on a face-t0-face basis.

    Let me say that there are those who are intimidated in doing so. There are those who fear retaliation by those who are in a position of power. Further, those who occupy these postiions have a responsibility to make themselves accessible and, hopefully, create an environment of trust that eventually results in face-to-face and open discussions.

    Until that trust is earned, any civic leader who has to be sought out by constituency is clearly making it awkward for those who potentially have legitimate questions to reach and confront them. It is NOT the responsbility of constituency to conform to managements’ desired communication venue – but the other way around. Management shoud accomodate the desired communications venue of the constituency who PAY THEIR SALARIES.

  11. No Hospital is Immune…

    ** It’s not even a question of insurance anymore

    Neither presidential candiate is interest in this horrifing problem

    The country is in a sad state of affairs…

  12. 8/23/2008
    The central issue is not Dr Evelyn Li. The central issue is functioning of a public district hospital started in 1948 with people with social mission . The hospital is supported by tax free bonds at tax payer expense. The Board of directors are public elected official with responsibility to the public to provide safe and cost effective accessibility to the Tri City public in the hospital district
    Please note the following
    1)Washington hospital (WHHS) charges to patients are very high compared to adjoining similar hospitals in the area . These exorbitant charges are no way justifiable. Many of the local public have to travel distances to seek medical care because many insurances do not allow them to seek care in WHHS(example. Calpers and Healthnet)
    2) Board has not acted in fiscally prudent manner in public interest in giving CEO a astronomically increase in salary placing her in the top bracket of CEO salary in the nation.
    3) Board has not acted in the public interest when it gave the salary raise to CEO with the full awareness that the hospital got a conditional accreditation after Joint commission inspection in 2005. The performance fell below par for average hospital in the nation undergoing inspection.
    4) Board has rewarded her for getting increase revenue ( which is again the result of high charges to the patients)
    Public needs to be involved in grass roots local level to control healthcare costs Initiative for reform needs to start from below

    More to come about issues facing WHHS effecting cost effective safe healthcare

    Damon Harris

  13. I have a friend who worked there as a nurse and quited. He was retaliated when he tried to provide good patient care and had conflict with management. Washington Hospital has ways to keep employees in line. Nurses can’t call in sick for more than 3 times in 3 months, or else they will lose their job. It’s easy to get rid of you if you are not appealing to the management. There’s no electronic time card system like most other hospitals, so the hospital could omit overtime pay for nurses. The hospital maximize nurses workload every day, and frequently cancel nursing staff to keep budget. The result: nurses work harder and patients don’t get the best care.

  14. I am a 30% service connected veteran transported last April by ambulance twice for a gastric bleed.

    Washington Hospital billed the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System $114,000 for four days in ICU.

    No wonder this crummy hospital’s CEO makes a half a mil a year.

  15. 3/18/2008 Department of Health services California citation of the hospital

    Please visit this site for details of medication related death due to “SYSTEM PROBLEMS” ( Read administrative incompetence under CEO paid over
    ? $700,000 a year )
    Date of citation 3/18/2008
    12=45:05 PM Event I.D. R1N11
    page 8 excerpts citation
    ” Specifically , the hospital failed to develop an immediate correction plan that would prevent a recurrence of a similar series of medication errors. The hospital failed to develop a procedure for safe distribution and accurate dispensing of medication. by employing unreliable room numbers ……..”
    The identified violation and system failures contributed to Patient A Respiratory depression , altered level of conciousness and hypotension as result of medication errors and placed other patients at risk for serious complications related to medication errors. The identified violation and system failures resulted in facility inability to ensure the safe distribution of drugs ordered by the physician”

    . It is not the nurses or physicians who have been cited ,it is the system set up by hospital administration headed by
    $ 700,000 dollar annual salary CEO (in top percentile of nation) thanks to present board of directors.( two of the directors Dr Nicholson and Ms Danielson up for re-election)
    If they have public concern in their mind and decency board of directors should constitute investigation into CEO style and practice and cut her salary
    More to come
    Damon Harris
    Healthcare advocate
    Vox Populi ,Vox Die
    ( voice of people is voice of God)

  16. I have only been at WHHS for four years but during that time I can safely say a few things are very clear
    1) The hospital and it’s CEO are 100% patient focused.
    2) While “charges” may be high you need to look at collections. The hospital does considerable community outreach and has a large burden of underinsured patients.
    3) Physicians who claim hospital bias have not been clear to state the fact that peer review is a medical staff function. If any doctor is being looked it is by their fellow physicians.
    4) No margin, no mission. The hospital must stay solvent to stay open. I am always interested in the occasional angry nurse blog who fails to mention that WHHS pays top dollar in the bay area to retain well trained nurses.

    Is the US health system in the best shape? Of course not. Is WHHS perfect? No one is. They are focused on the patient and are clear in their mission of providing care to the community.

  17. Paul Goehner is a Contracted Anesthesiologist with hospital . Did you and your group leave El Camino hospital after public spat with The CEO? Did you and your group raise issues about El Camino CEO pay?

    Washington Hospital with 3 medical directors in its payroll in Orthopedic surgery has failed to provide coverage to emergency room patients . This resulted in department of health investigation last month

  18. How about for a change in policy that every time the department health services fines the hospital a dollar amount for administrative lapse ,The fine is deducted from CEO salary . Future CEO salary also comes down by that amount . Any bright ideas?

  19. The truth is…a lot of people are denial.Once a public servant does not gain something for her /his own personal gain..they find fault everywhere.heath care system is not perfect and will never be perfect.Nurses,MD’s,Ceo’s,management,administrators..name it all ,can only do so much and we all work under regulations of the state of california.

    Who cares about ceo’s high salary,who cares about 3 orthopedic surgeon on the payroll…what matters most we serve our patients to the best that we can. Yes at times we fail but it is not intentional…Who among the health care provider wants his license to be revoked?..i guess nobody.when a hospital faces such dillemas..it ‘s because there is something to improved in there system.And besides..washington hospital did not hide anything to the public..we had acknowledge our mistakes ..the salary of most of the individuals were posted in the argus.. in that sense..We are sincere in serving the community. To everyone out there..there’s already too much going on in our world..Why add more… Why not think of something to help out to solve the problems instead of slashing the reputation of the hospital.

    Life for sale is not true at all.Because I believe each individual values there own life..it is a matter of choice that we make in life ..that we suffer the consequences.

  20. I am with SuperDuper.

    Yesterday my RN friend works in WHHS received a call from management, asked her not to join the hospital rally that supports Dr. Rao and Dr. Sandhu, who testified in the film. The hospital is currently dealing with them.
    This is the usual way WHHS deals with employees and doctors: retaliation, and keep people quiet.

    Orthopedic surgeries bring money for the hospital. There’s nothing wrong. After all, we need to cover the uninsured in ER and other units. However, the administration should realize that they need to change their management system. They can’t just keep people quiet by threatening or retaliation.

    WHHS has the best staff nurses but the worst management. Yes,RN in WHHS receives good pay, but many unhappy. They work harder than their peers in other hospitals. They Union rep are bribed by administration. RN pays union dues but can’t get real help once in need. You’ll never see WHHS nurses on strike like other hospitals, not because they are satisfied, but because the union doesn’t really represent them.

    The WHHS administration needs to learn lessons from this movie. Inconsonant voice will eventually be heard no matter how hard you try to cover.

  21. This is in response to Bonnie Johnson’s first comment.

    Do you have any concrete examples in how Dr. Eveyln Li was shown to have been “proven to be incompetent on more than one occasion”?

    From what I gathered after watching the movie, Dr. Li had an excellent service record as a Doctor, with an above average survival rate in her patients.

    I am open to hearing if you actually have any hard evidence about “the results of her incompetence”.

    This is not meant to be an inflammatory post, but I just wanted to give Bonnie a chance to legitimize her claims. I hope she’s not just posting slander for slander’s sake.


  22. Jenton-
    The information you have request is available to the public from the Medical Board of California. You can go to this link, do a search by typing in her last name “Li”, first name “Evelyn”. This will bring up a 16 page document that provides details of her incompetence.


    Hope this helps.

  23. It has been pointed out that I am an Anesthesiologist at WHHS which is true and is why I posted with my full real name. Its also true that “Damon Harris” is Dr Rao posting under a false name. I believe all of this is fabrications on the part of a few physicians who are unhappy with a system that is holding them accountable. The medical staff resents being represented in this way and we have nothing to hide. The truth will be clear for all to see when you take a look at it. I hope Dr Rao develops the integrity to post using his real name.
    Paul Goehner

  24. I am amazed that most of the focus is on money. What about patient care?

    You are all so willing to condemn Washington Hospital, that you don’t realize that if this hospital was not available, The next closes Hospital would be in either Hayward or San Jose.

    Not to mention the accreditations the hospital has as a Cardiac Center and a Stroke Center. Do you realize that the ambulances in Pleasanton/Livermore take the stroke patients they pick-up and bring them to WHHS because their chances of recovery are greater than if they went to the closest hospital.

    It has been brought to the light that the Emergency Room sees close to 4500 patients a month? And while the wait may be 2-3 hours for those with minor injuries, that like other tragic cases you are made aware of, no one has died in thier waitting room. Go to Highland Hospital and see how long you have to wait. It is a fact that people living in other communities take BART to get seen at WHHS because they don’t want to wait at the hospital closest to them.

    I am not saying that the system is flaw less, but, don’t throughout the baby with the bath water.

  25. I want to clarify my previous comment. The ER and ICU nurses were very professional and hard working. I was very unhappy however with the way my primary M.D. disappeared and was unavailable when I was transferred from ICU to a general medicine ward. There I sat for eight+ hours, on two occasions, trying to learn what he planned next. His subsequent invoices were never hard to find.

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