Nurses, Elected Officials Condemn Kaiserâ€™s Imminent Closure of Vital Pediatrics Unit
Closure is part of pattern of HMO’s new model of care, limiting access to hospital and nursing care
HAYWARD - Registered nurses, elected officials, including Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, and Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle and concerned community members will hold a press conference Thursday, followed by a community forum Friday, to protest Kaiser Permanente’s decision to close the inpatient pediatrics unit in its Hayward facility on Nov. 17.
The unit serves over 1,000 families a year, and more than 100,000 children in the tri-city area receive healthcare from Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser is building a nearby hospital in San Leandro slated to replace much of the Hayward facility, yet has made no plans to include an inpatient pediatrics unit.
What: PRESS CONFERENCE: Parents, Teachers, Nurses Demand Kaiser Maintain Hospital Access for Children in Southern Alameda County
When: Thursday, Oct. 24—4:00 p.m.
Where: Front of Kaiser Hayward—27400 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward
What: COMMUNITY TOWN HALL MEETING
When: Friday, Oct. 25—6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Where: Eden Mansion by Kaiser Hayward, 2451 W. Tennyson Road, Hayward
“Many of our pediatric patients have complex chronic conditions such as asthma, seizures, and metabolic disorders,” said Kristine Richter, an RN who has worked in the unit for more than 37 years. “Many come from working families who either rely on public transportation or who have heavy work demands. What we are asking for is pretty simple: A few beds dedicated to children, so when very sick kids come in, they can be taken down the hall, not forced to commute on crowded freeways.”
At a time when the HMO is expected to gain many new members as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, their new care model is making it more difficult for patients to be admitted. Instead, Kaiser is sending patients home or to other settings when they should still be in the hospital. The ACA, for which Kaiser is a leading industry model, accelerates this trend by providing financial incentives for providers to limit formal hospital admissions.
As part of that shift away from hospital care, Kaiser has been reducing inpatient hospital services and RN staffing in its hospitals. Notably, RNs and residents of Manteca have recently been protesting the escalating reduction of vital patient services at their Kaiser facility, including maternity, pediatric, cardiology, ultrasound, and radiology, forcing patients to travel to Modesto or Stockton for care.
The Hayward unit serves children who live in a geographic area that includes Hayward, Fremont, Union City, San Lorenzo, San Leandro, and Castro Valley. The closure will force southern Alameda County families with children who need to be hospitalized to drive to Oakland, Santa Clara, or Roseville for care.
The fight to keep the unit open has gained massive support from a wide array of public officials, community and labor organizations, teachers, and parents, who depend on Kaiser’s pediatric services. There have been several large public protests since Kaiser announced its decision last year.
As both an insurance company and a hospital chain, Kaiser has increased its profits by reducing patient services, especially hospital care. Kaiser has grown by more than 21,000 new members in Northern California just since June, and made more than $1.2 billion in profits from January through June.
Many elected officials, local unions, and community groups have endorsed the campaign to keep the Kaiser pediatrics unit open, including:
Rob Bonta, California Assembly; Bill Quirk, California Assembly; Sen. Ellen M. Corbett; former Assemblymember Alberto Torrico; Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski; Jim Prola, San Leandro City Council; Searles Elementary PTA/PTC in Union City; Alameda Central Labor Council; Hayward Firefighters, Local 1909; Stonebrae PTA/PTC in Hayward; Tri-Valley Democratic Club; Newark Teachers Association; SEIU Local 1021; Castro Valley Teachers Association; Hayward Firefighters – IAFF Local 1909; and the Alameda Central Labor Council.