HAYWARD -- Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday it will close its pediatric hospital unit on Nov. 17 and shift young patients to Oakland.

Although Kaiser Permanente says those patients will get better care in Oakland, the move is opposed by nurses, who say it will create a hardship for parents.

Kaiser administrators say few children are hospitalized in Hayward, and that its new facility in Oakland has a team of doctors, surgeons and nurses specializing in pediatric care. More than 99 percent of the children seen in Hayward are treated in doctors' offices in the pediatric clinic, which will not close, stressed Tom Hanenburg, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser.

"Kaiser is not closing pediatrics in Hayward. We offer an array of pediatric services in Hayward; those will remain. Our members will continue to see their pediatricians here in Hayward," he said. "The very small percentage of children who need to be hospitalized will be going to Oakland."

Children who are Kaiser patients deserve to be treated in their community, just as adults are, said Kristine Richter, of San Leandro, who has been a pediatrics nurse at the Hayward hospital for almost 37 years.

"There is nothing they can say that makes it easier for a parent to drive 40 miles rather than 10," she said. "On the 880 corridor, 10 miles can be 30 minutes or more. To force a parent to have to leave their sick child and rush from Oakland to pick up the other kids from school and then rush back because they don't want to leave their child alone is appalling."


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Kaiser is building new hospitals in San Leandro and Oakland, scheduled to open next year, and will close its hospital in Hayward. The new San Leandro hospital will not have an inpatient pediatric unit, but it will have new pediatric medical offices. Hayward medical offices, including pediatrics, will remain open after the move.

"To best meet the needs of our young patients, we are building a centralized, state-of-the-art children's-hospital-within-a-hospital in Oakland that will provide greater expertise and specialization in children's hospital care in one East Bay location," Hanenburg said.

Young patients who need more specialized services already are being sent to Oakland or Santa Clara, Richter said. "The majority of our patients don't require those services. We are perfectly capable of and skilled to take care of most of them in Hayward," she said.

In the past year, the Hayward hospital averaged fewer than four patients a day who were under 1 year old though 14, according to Hanenburg.

Richter questioned Kaiser's numbers, since the Hayward pediatric hospital unit treats children ages 2 days old until age 18, not 14. "Their statistic probably is excluding half of our census," she said.

What will become of the 21 Hayward hospital nurses has not been determined. Kaiser and the California Nurses Association will meet Thursday to negotiate.

"We know combining the pediatric units will affect the inpatient nurses at Hayward," Hanenburg said. "We want to work with them to retain them. We would like for them to continue employment."

Parent and Kaiser member Kari Phillips, of Castro Valley, expressed concern, especially for what the hospital unit closure will mean to families in South Hayward, where she lived for a number of years.

"Lots of families don't have transportation or are working long hours, so taking a child to Oakland will impact them tremendously," she said. "It upsets me that our most vulnerable citizens are taking the hit for this."

if you go
What: The California Nurses Association will hold a community meeting to discuss the pending closure of the Kaiser Hayward inpatient pediatrics unit.
When: 6-8 p.m. Friday
Where: Eden Mansion near Kaiser, 2451 W. Tennyson Road, Hayward