Several dozen nurses and patients held a rally at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Manteca Wednesday, urging administrators to keep the facility open.
Kaiser has not said said the hospital will close, but nurses say the elimination of key services and closing the third floor of the hospital is a clear indication that its days are numbered.
“We need a full fledged running hospital, we’re good nurses and we want to care for our community … with all of our services here,” said Ruth Somera, a nurse who has worked at the hospital for 18 years.
Nurses recruited patients at the nearby Del Webb community, where many retirees rely on the hospital. Jacqueline Ruby and her husband moved to Manteca from Oakdale to be closer to a Kaiser hospital. Her husband suffers from a variety of heart ailments and hot good service at the hospital until its cardiology unit was moved.
“We had to wait here for a couple of hours until the ambulance came and they had a bed for him in Modesto,” said Ruby.
She said she had no idea they were moving many services out of the hospital.
The group delivered petitions, with several hundred signatures, urging that the hospital not close. More meetings with nurses and community members are scheduled in a grass roots effort to make people aware of the changes at the hospital. Nurses representing the California Nurses Association said they successfully worked with community groups to keep Kaiser Permanente hospitals open in several Bay Area communities.
Kaiser had a different take on the rally.
The following is a statement released Corwin Harper, Senior Vice President and Area Manager, Central Valley Area, Kaiser Permanente.
“We are extremely concerned that the community is receiving misleading and inaccurate information from CNA, the nurses’ union, and that this is causing unnecessary alarm and confusion, especially among senior citizens. For example, Kaiser Permanente services alleged by CNA to have been “closed” – such as hospital maternity and pediatrics, and interventional radiology – have never been offered by Kaiser Permanente in Manteca. These irresponsible scare tactics are being used by CNA as part of a labor dispute with Kaiser Permanente around nurse staffing and do nothing to advance quality of care or services.
The truth is, we regularly evaluate the services at our Manteca/Modesto facilities – which operate under a single hospital license to serve the broader Central Valley – to determine how to best meet the evolving needs of the people in Manteca, Modesto and the Central Valley for high quality, affordable health care, now and in the future.
Kaiser Permanente’s advances in clinical quality, prevention, and safety are keeping people healthier, often preventing illnesses and disease from occurring in the first place, and are resulting in shorter and less frequent hospital stays, and fewer patients in our hospitals. At the same time, we are providing high quality care in other appropriate care delivery settings, such as medical offices, at home, by phone, and even online.
We want to reassure our members in Manteca, Modesto and the Central Valley that we are fully committed to meeting their needs through the combined services of our Manteca and Modesto facilities. Recognizing that these two facilities are only 14 miles apart, we have been and will continue to evaluate how to minimize unnecessary duplication and align our clinical resources and services to ensure we are able to meet the needs of the community and fulfill our mission to provide high quality affordable care
In this regard, we have communicated to our staff that we are in the process of evaluating the DP-Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) at Kaiser Foundation Hospital Manteca. This type of long-term sub-acute care typically takes place outside of hospitals at specialized facilities. Our members and patients in Northern California receive excellent care from contracted providers who specialize only in sub-acute and other skilled nursing care. We are in the process of evaluating whether to use this model for all of our members and patients.
As we continue to evaluate how to best align the services we provide at the Manteca/Modesto facilities, we will continue to engage our members, the community, and our employees and provide accurate information directly to them. We value our nurses and the outstanding care they provide every day. We regret that CNA is attempting to use Manteca as a platform in what is essentially a region-wide dispute about adjusting nurse staffing to align with the number of patients in our hospitals. We are proud of our long history working successfully with organized labor over more than 65 years. We will continue our attempts to engage CNA in productive bargaining over nurse staffing issues, and hope that the union will stop confusing our members, our employees and the public by spreading misleading and inaccurate information.”