KAISER PERMANENTE: Plan to Slim Oakland Facility Unpopular
Kaiser Permenente's plan to close down the emergency room and in- patient care at its Oakland hospital is facing opposition that "is growing fiercer -- and increasingly public," the Oakland Tribune reports. While nurse and patient advocates have long expressed their displeasure with Kaiser's decision, physicians, "who have mostly kept silent since the strategy surfaced three years ago, are now coming out of the woodwork as the June closure date fast approaches." Dr. Paul Smith, president of the hospital's physician association, said, "Physicians don't like to shout out about things at all. But we believed that something as stupid as this wouldn't happen." Kaiser wants to redistribute the hospital's patients to three nearby hospitals -- Summit Medical Center, Children's Hospital Oakland and Alta Bates Medical Center -- and open an out-patient surgery center and urgent care center at the facility. This would obviate the need to spend the $1 million to meet seismic standards and would create better patient care in the region, according to Kaiser officials. The state attorney general's office believes the hospitals can absorb Kaiser patients, but doctors and nurses worry that the other hospitals don't have the capacity to take in those patients. Doctors complain that shifting their patient elsewhere creates extra hassle and more potential for medical mistakes caused by mixups and mislabeling between hospitals. Kaiser officials acknowledge that the shift will be hardest on doctors "who will have to make daily rounds elsewhere before returning to Kaiser to see patients." It is the "rift" between Kaiser and its doctors that is "particularly worrisome," the Tribune reports, because its "strong relationship" with its doctors has been its "trademark." Dr. Smith said, "Quietly there's been a tidal wave building, and it's coming ashore one day. They'll have a major clash on their hands if they persist" (Kagan, 4/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.