Kaiser Permanente is building two new state-of-the-art medical centers in San Leandro and Oakland that will open in 2014. This $2 billion investment will expand access to health care and increase the level of health care services in Alameda County and throughout the East Bay.
Additionally, these two new medical centers already are providing a significant boost to the economic health of Alameda County and the East Bay by creating a wide range of jobs for people who live here.
Clearly, this is very good news. Unfortunately, the California Nurses Association has not supported these efforts. Instead, union leaders have chosen to engage in yet another misguided campaign in which they are making exaggerated and misleading claims about Kaiser Permanente's pediatric services in Hayward and unnecessarily alarming local families.
Their claims have little to do with improving health care -- or the facts -- and have much to do with advancing the union leadership's own political agenda.
Even though the union canceled a rally scheduled for Sept. 29, we believe it is important to respond to their many inaccurate claims and set the record straight.
Here is the truth: Kaiser Permanente's Hayward hospital has very few hospitalized children. Last year there was an average of just four patients per day in the Hayward hospital ranging from under 1 year old through age 14. This is not the best way to deliver inpatient services to these young patients.
As part of our $2 billion investment, we are building a centralized state-of-the-art pediatric inpatient center of excellence in Oakland that will enable us to provide greater expertise and specialization for inpatient pediatric patients in one place.
This center will have up to 35 beds for children and an expanded 12-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
By centralizing inpatient pediatrics and having a higher volume of patients we can bring together important health care resources -- including physicians, surgeons, pediatric sub-specialists, and nurses specializing in inpatient pediatric care -- all under one roof and all using the latest technology and equipment designed specifically for children.
This is a much better way to deliver these important services.
Kaiser Permanente is not "closing pediatrics" in Hayward. Our pediatric medical offices, where our young members get the vast majority of their care -- including everyday care -- are staying right where they are.
That means families will continue to see their local pediatricians and outpatient pediatric specialists for ongoing care in Hayward and Fremont -- just as they do now -- and they will have an additional option in San Leandro starting in 2014.
Finally, we know the opening of the pediatric inpatient center at Oakland and the closure of the Hayward hospital in 2014 will eventually affect our inpatient pediatric nurses at Hayward.
We greatly appreciate the work these nurses do for our young patients, and we have already stated that they all will be able to retain a position with Kaiser Permanente.
Colleen McKeown, RN, is senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center.