To the Reutlinger community,
Thank you for attending the Nov. 5 meeting with the California Attorney General at our campus in Danville. We appreciate the democratic process by which the hearing was conducted and respect the sentiment through testimony expressed by all and driven by a shared passion for our community.
We acknowledge the concerns from those who do not support the affiliation with Eskaton, but we can assure all of you we reached this decision because it gave Reutlinger the best chance of surviving into the foreseeable future. As stewards of the community’s welfare and sustainability, we had to make this decision to preserve Reutlinger and honor our area’s Jewish community.
For the record, I would like to clarify a few misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the agreement we heard at the hearing:
The Reutlinger Community’s Jewish Culture and Heritage
The Affiliation Agreement between Reutlinger and Eskaton was designed to protect Reutinger’s Jewish culture and heritage. The agreement specifically states: “Eskaton and Reutlinger will preserve the name and identity of Reutlinger as a skilled nursing and residential care facility with a commitment to Jewish values, policies and practices that have defined Reutlinger since its inception.”
The full text of Reutlinger’s mission statement and a description of the written policies and the practices relating to Reutlinger’s Jewish values are included in the Agreement as Exhibit 1.4(a) and incorporate:
- the policies respecting the Residents’ Assistance Fund and Holocaust Survivors;
- maintenance of an on-site synagogue and full-time Rabbi;
- serving of both Kosher and non-Kosher meals; and
- maintenance of Torahs, prayer books and Chumashim, and Mezzuzot on doorposts.
Enforcement of Eskaton’s Obligations Under the Affiliation
The Affiliation Agreement provides for a permanent Reutlinger designee to the Eskaton Board of Directors. The Reutlinger designee will possess extensive rights to enforce any breach by Eskaton of the fundamental commitments made to Reutlinger as part of the Agreement. To further reinforce this critically important clause, and as a sign of good faith, Eskaton agreed to cover legal fees for any alleged breach.
The reference to potential relocation (Section 1.4(f)) is not unusual in agreements like this and is designed to protect residents from potential catastrophes and unlikely circumstances. The agreement provides that, in the unlikely event of a relocation, accommodations for relocation are guaranteed to be to a facility comparable to Reutlinger, and at comparable costs. This means any alternative facility would have to maintain the same Jewish values, scope of services, quality of care and commitments in the East Bay as Reutlinger.
Reutlinger’s due diligence with Eskaton culminating in the affiliation agreement
We conducted due diligence with Eskaton for about a year. Our counsel vetted the agreement fully with Reutlinger interests in mind. Eskaton agreed to lower the management fee from its standard 6% to 4% and guaranteed that donations to Reutlinger would be exempt from all fee calculations. Additionally, all operational losses would be covered by Eskaton. Our due diligence also included a detailed review (during multiple board meetings) of a recent jury verdict against Eskaton, which stemmed from a lawsuit filed seven years ago.
We started our search for long-term sustainability of Reutlinger while it was still a strong, highly regarded community asset, and that helped us leverage the best partnership possible for our community. We did so with the time and commitment of many trusted, caring people in our community.
We look forward to continued collaboration and discussion about the Agreement with the East Bay Jewish community and a positive determination from the California Attorney General in the months ahead.
Jay Zimmer, President/CEO