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.