Kaiser Permanente To Close Kidney Program
Kaiser Permanente will close its Northern California kidney transplant program and transfer patients to the University of California-Davis and UC-San Francisco medical centers, officials announced on Friday, the Sacramento Bee reports (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 5/13).
In 2004, the HMO transferred about 1,500 patients from the kidney programs at UCSF and UC-Davis to a new Kaiser transplant center in San Francisco (Wall Street Journal, 5/15). However, recent news reports have found that paperwork and other errors led to delayed care for patients at the center (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/13).
Nearly 2,100 patients will be transferred to UCSF and UC-Davis waiting lists, and patients will receive credit for time spent on Kaiser's waiting list, according to Mary Ann Thode, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan-Northern California. The transfer process could take six weeks or longer, Thode said.
Kaiser will continue performing transplants until all patients are transferred from the list (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 5/13). Kaiser also will continue evaluating living donors who are willing to give a kidney to a relative, Thode said (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 5/13).
Most Kaiser kidney patients still will receive pre- and post-transplant care from Kaiser specialists.
Thode said officials "don't know at this point" whether the center will reopen.
Officials at UCSF and UC-Davis said they are preparing to absorb the Kaiser patients and hire additional staff (Sacramento Bee, 5/13). UC and Kaiser officials plan to discuss the transfer process on Monday (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/13).
At UC-Davis, officials plan to open extra clinics to speed the evaluation of Kaiser patients who are transferred.
The Department of Managed Health Care will continue its investigation of the center, and fines or other penalties could be imposed (Sacramento Bee, 5/13).
DMHC Director Cindy Ehnes said the agency would appoint a monitor to oversee the transfer of Kaiser members to transplant programs at UCSF and UC-Davis (San Jose Mercury News, 5/13).
The United Network of Organ Sharing, the national organization that oversees the transplant system, said it will send a site review team to the medical centers to facilitate patient transfers (Sacramento Bee, 5/13).