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Families, Nurses Protest Against Closure of Hayward Kaiser's Inpatient Pediatrics Unit

The new Oakland medical center, which is being built to meet earthquake requirements, will be the new hub for inpatient pediatrics for Alameda County.

Hundreds of nurses, patients, parents and kids picketed outside of Kaiser Permanente in Hayward on Tuesday evening, .

The move comes due to state requirements to make hospitals safer in the event of an earthquake.

Two $2 billion facilities being built in . The Hayward hospital, which isn't up to those standards, will be retired by then. And although the San Leandro center will deliver babies and offer neonatal intensive care, it will not provide hospital care to older youth.

The distance from Hayward to Oakland Kaiser is close to 20 miles, or 25 minutes. Aside from the Oakland center, families from Hayward, Fremont, Union City, San Lorenzo, San Leandro and Castro Valley seeking hospitalization for their children will need to travel to Santa Clara or Roseville for care.

Oakland Kaiser nurse Kathy Donohugh said aside from distance, several other factors should also be considered like possible traffic, parents taking more time off from work and having to find child care for other children who they can't bring with them.

"It's going to greatly impact the local population that have critically ill children," she said.

For others like Michael Henneberry, a parent from Alameda, changing pediatricians is a big concern. All three of his young children were born at the Hayward hospital and have grown to love it.

"Our doctors are here so we don't want to move," Henneberry said.

Colleen McKeown, Kaiser's Senior Vice President and Area Manager for Southern Alameda County, said Hayward receives four inpatients per day between the ages of 1 and 14, making the inpatient pediatric unit a low-volume service according to her.

McKeown said the medical center has accounted for the targeted population through 2020. Once the new Oakland unit is completed, it will house 35 general pediatric beds, 12 pediatric intensive care beds and 21 neonatal ICU beds.

As for the staffing, she said once the Hayward unit closes in 2014, Kaiser will work with the California Nurses Association to have unionized nurses keep their jobs with Kaiser, however she was unable to say where exactly they'd be transfered to.

Craig Cedotal, a pediatric nurse in Kaiser Oakland, said despite the smaller number of inpatients compared to outpatients, he worries about the quality of care for patients. He said Alameda County patients will be competing for spots against patients throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

"They're [Kaiser Oakland nurses] going to get all the extra patients and they're already slammed," Cedotal said. "We don't have enough nurses to take care of the patients we currently have."

He said patients come from as far as Fresno and Santa Rosa for care at the Oakand facility. Sometimes, he said the hospital is forced to turn patients away when they reach their current room capacity of 25 general pediatric beds.

"It's more than what a family needs to deal with while they're dealing with a crisis and their child," Cedotal said.

However, McKeown said staff will be hired to accomodate this. By making Kaiser Oakland Medical Center the regional hub for impatient pediatrics, she said highly-specialized pediatricians will all be at the state-of-the-art facility to provide optimal care for those patients.

"You would want [your child] at a dedicated pediatric hospital," she said.

dave M April 18, 2012 at 05:19 PM
This article makes this seem like a union versus hospital administration issue, but at The rally yesterday there were PTA members, a state senator and a former member of the Obama administration who just think making families travel to Oakland for pediatric inpatient care is just plain wrong and leaving working families in an already stressful situation even more stressed out.
Stephanie April 18, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I am a mom in the Hayward and I pay hundreds of dollars a month for Kaiser insurance. It is wrong for Kaiser to make it so I would have to drive for hours on 880 when my child is in the Hospital. Kaiser should not close pediatrics in my community.
TTFN April 18, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Let's be honest, if you're south of the current Hayward facility it will add ~ 20 minutes. If you’re north of it you’ll be subtracting time. BTW, wouldn’t you actually rather have your child in a new state of the art facility, as opposed to an older out of date facility?
scott otsuka April 18, 2012 at 09:06 PM
i do not see Kaiser as the cause of this problem. The article clealy states that the reason for the closure is the State of CA regulating the seismic standards making it necessary to either close or do a cost-prohibitive retrofit. This is not unlike the rediculous ADA lawsuits that force local businesses to close. Blame the nanny government, not the business that is forced to make a business decision as a result of it.
RN4MERCY April 18, 2012 at 09:08 PM
The article quoted parents who are advocates for their children; and, it quoted nurses whose caring and compassion for the needs of the communities they live and work in. It seemed balanced to me. Dave, your points about the stress and access to care delays is at the heart of the matter. Kaiser has made a business decision; it's a wealthy corporation that pays its CEO and top brass millions in compensation. Why should they get away with cutting care and limiting access for the most vulnerable among us? Regardless of who takes up the fight, as Mother Jones once said, "Some day... no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit." It's a fight that we must engage in and we must win.
Diane April 18, 2012 at 09:22 PM
It is very sad that the writer did not bother do to any fact checking. Kaiser will still have Out Patient services in Hayward, as well as Fremont. The hospitalization of the pediatric patients will either be in San Leandro or Oakland, depeding on the nature of the child's medical condition, this is no different than having a child that needs to be submitted for Children's or Stanford. As a parent I know that I would travel to the end of the earth to save my child's life. This all seems like a scare tactic because the RNs not wanting to have to travel to other facilities, which also keep in mind they will not be out of a job. Stephanie, how far away do you think Hayward is from San Leandro or Oakland, last I checked it was not "Hours" away, not to mention hopefully it is a drive you will never have to make because if you do it means that your child is very sick.
Mike April 18, 2012 at 09:41 PM
when I was a kid growing up I had to go from San Leandro to Hayward, seemed to have worked. Whtas the big deal of now going from Hayward to San Leandro?
Shannon April 18, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Those bean counters are at it again. Profit over patient care. Kaisers census projections have been wrong before.
Tim April 18, 2012 at 09:46 PM
@Stephanie... it really takes you "hours" to drive to Oakland or Santa Clara? What, do you push your car down the freeway or perhaps you have a Fred Flinstone car? Yabadabadoo! If you don't like it change your insurance and go somewhere else, or use the outpatient pediatric services Kaiser will continue to offer in Fremont and Hayward that aren't mentioned in this article.... over 99% of pedatric visits are outpatient anyway so we're talking about a very small number of people that will be impacted. This protest is really about the union and not patient care no matter how much they want to spin it.... much like how we're told "Preparation H"is in Union City is "for the kids" when it's really for the teachers, their union, and the overpaid administrators.
Michael Allen April 18, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I'm sorry that it's a drive, but seriously, these buildings will be STANDING when (not if) a big quake hits, making it possible to deliver care to many hurt children when we get slammed by a major quake. My daughter has a decade or more of being subject to going to a pediatric health care center and I want those buildings to survive and provide care for her and the county. Not to toss numbers around, but how many people will be much closer to care when these buildings open versus having to go to Hayward for Inpatient Pediatric care?
Tim April 18, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Hours? Really? Maybe you're Fred Flinstone in a foot powered "car"... going to Oakland or Santa Clara adds about 20 minutes for the small number of those needing inpatient pediatric care. For the overwhelming majority (over 99%) of those needing outpatient care, it's still available locally. This protest has nothing to do with patient care and everything to do with yet another out of control union.
Harriet April 19, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I am sad to hear this. Twenty years ago , I had a child with a serious medical situation that required hospitalization. With two younger children at home, the close proximity made it possible for friends and family members to be there. Thirty three years ago, I had a child who required several surgeries from infancy to childhood. He was an Oakland patient. That long ago, the drive was way more than 25 minutes, I cannot imagine making that commute today with the increase in traffic. To not have a community hospital is irresponsible. Will Kaiser coverage cover pediatric emergencies closer to home? Minutes can save lives.
Lynnel Schexnayder April 19, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Lynn I am disturbed that Kaiser would plan to close a functioning inpatient unit. It is not a wise choice, and as a parent that has had a child in the hospital, I am glad my son could benefit from the caring and compassionate nurses without having to drive out of the community.
Mike April 19, 2012 at 02:12 AM
When I was a kid and my folks had Kaiser we had to drive from San Leandro to Hayward. I'm fine with Hayward citizens having to now go from Hayward to San Leandro.
Marian Esser April 19, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I am in favor of an inpatient pediatric unit in San Leandro to serve the Kaiser families living in southern Alameda County.
G. Dillon April 19, 2012 at 06:56 AM
As much money people pay for Kaiser insurance, its really unfair to have to go such a long distance for hospital care. Most children require a regular hospitalized care not specialized care...If my child has an asthma attack and requires hospitalization, i dont need to be a special children center..which is out of my area and a hardship for me. A unit in San leandro would make more sense for such admissions.
RN4U April 19, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Granted, seismic standards seem to be the crux for any excuse to close the Hayward unit. But, nowhere do I see this as a temporary closure during any time that those standards are being corrected. If this is truly a serious standard problem, then why isn't the entire facility being closed? I have seen Kaiser hospitals close off units for upgrading or repairs; why not at Hayward? It IS a Kaiser problem and it is the patients and families who are most affected by this.
Flor Knight April 19, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I agree with you. You nailed the point for all of these.
Flor Knight April 19, 2012 at 07:12 PM
When the Hayward facility close in 2014, almost all units and services MOVE to the new facility in San Leandro...EXCEPT for ONE... the inpatient pedi unit. Sure, Oakland would absorb it but it is still a couple of miles more away, traffic is bad, parking is worse. They say rooms would be roomy enough to accommodate the family but would you move in the whole family/siblings in with the sick child. The child that needed the rest to recuperate with their parents stressed out on how to reach their other children at home and with the commute to home, work and the hospital?
anthony April 19, 2012 at 09:36 PM
At this moment, children around the world are having their bodies and spirits torn apart by acts of war, man made circumstances, circumstances of nature. Many will live and die never receiving any "advanced" medical care. Many will pass from conditions and illnesses easily remedied by modern medical care. Yet here we are kicking back and forth inconvenient commute times and lousy parking, to get to state of the art facilities. Toss in the seat warmer on the drivers' side being on the fritz... oh the horror.
Frieda April 20, 2012 at 04:09 AM
You must have missed the part about not having a Pediatric inpatient unit in San Leandro. There will be outpatient clinics but no inpatient services for the Pediatric members. Therefore patients requiring hospitalization will need to be transferred to Oakland or Santa Clara if a bed is available at one of those facilities. The choice of which facility may not be available to the parents if a bed is not available. Roseville is 115 miles from San Leandro. That would be a long commute with zero traffic.
Jessica Miyoshi April 20, 2012 at 04:28 AM
I don't have Kaiser, but I have another HMO. I willingly chose my HMO and happily drive to the best inpatient children's care - Children's Hospital Oakland. What do people in Pleasanton with Kaiser insurance do? They drive to Walnut Creek. No matter where you live, there will be time involved in getting to inpatient care facilities. They're not in every single city.

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