"We're very concerned for our patients. It's a huge distance for parents," said Kristen Wichter.
She has been a pediatric nurse at Kaiser Hayward for 37 years. She and her fellow nurses worry about Kaiser's plan to close its pediatric inpatient facility there on November 17. That means a child that needs to be hospitalized will have to go to the Oakland Medical Center.
"They want to have all the specialized services in one area. Most of our patients, the majority of our patients don't require all those specialized services. They'd rather be in their community, close to their homes," said Wichter.
Kaiser maintains at times there are four or fewer children in its Hayward hospital and 99 percent of the pediatric care Kaiser provides there is delivered through outpatient services. Those medical offices in Hayward will stay open, but in 2014 the hospital portion will move eight miles up the road to a new facility in San Leandro.
"When Chloe was 3-days-old, she was diagnosed with a severe case of jaundice," said John Green. His daughter was a patient at Kaiser's Hayward hospital. "It seems unfair that the grown-ups like myself are going to get a nice new hospital with the latest equipment, but the children are not going to have the same services that are available right now in their community."
"Children do better in centers that are specifically designed and tailored for pediatric care," said Tom Hanenburg from Kaiser Permanente. According to him, that is Kaiser's Medical Center in Oakland where a big new facility is also under construction. "We know that families want to go where they can get the best care, including some subspecialized care for their pediatric patients and their children. And they'll be going to Oakland Medical Center for that."
The pediatric nurses are protesting the hospital's decision because 26 of them will be displaced by the move. Kaiser says they can apply for nursing positions elsewhere in the system.