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Kaiser’s Modesto, Manteca hospitals operate as one to provide best care

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POSTED July 1, 2014 1:10 a.m.

At Kaiser Permanente, we understand the community sentiment that led to the Manteca City Council’s June 3 adoption of a non-binding resolution regarding the medical services offered at our Manteca Medical Center. Faced with a question about the operation of an important hometown institution, it’s only natural to want that institution to have all services. 

But there is a correlation between the practice of centralizing care and services and quality of care that may surprise you. 

The highest quality of care and the most favorable medical outcomes are achieved when skilled teams of doctors and nurses are focused on high volumes of specialized services. Volumes of medical research and scores of published studies validate this approach. 

By concentrating certain types of care in one place, all of the complex equipment and highly trained and experienced doctors and nurses create a program that offers the best quality of care. These teams see many patients, month after month, all year long. As a result, the teams perform a high volume of specialized treatments and procedures, which enables those doctors and nurses to hone their skills to the sharpest level of expertise.

Throughout Kaiser Permanente, care is often concentrated to help provide greater specialization and consistency. This focus on quality leads to better outcomes for patients.

When considering Kaiser Permanente in the Central Valley, there are not two separate hospitals, but rather two campuses of one hospital. The Manteca and Modesto Medical Centers operate under a single state license, and since Modesto opened in 2008, they have functioned as two campuses 14 miles apart.

In Manteca, we’ve concentrated services in Urology, Ophthalmology, Podiatry, Plastic Surgery, and Sleep Disorders. This allows us to make the best use of the resources, equipment and providers we have in order to ensure that our patients get the highest quality of care and service in these types of procedures. And for the same reason, we’ve concentrated other services at our Modesto campus, including Cardiology, Vascular Surgeries, Labor and Delivery, and Orthopedics – also to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.

And it should be noted that our approach is working.

Throughout Northern California, our members have a 30 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, a 10 percent lower risk of dying from cancer, and a 40 percent lower chance of experiencing a stroke compared to those who are not Kaiser Permanente members. Between 2001 and 2010, Kaiser Permanente Northern California increased the percentage of patients with hypertension whose symptoms were under control, from 44 percent to 87 percent. Nationally, the rate is just over 50 percent. During roughly the same period, stroke mortality among our members dropped by 42 percent, heart attacks by 24 percent, and the most serious types of heart attack by 62 percent.

Meanwhile, emergency care is one exception to this approach. In an emergency, a team of highly trained doctors and nurses who specialize in emergency care – and who are close by – is the model that works best. In both Manteca and Modesto, our members and the community at large can count on 24/7 emergency services, now and in the future. 

In both emergency departments, patients are assessed and treated by highly skilled emergency-medicine specialists, and if their illnesses or injuries require hospitalization or more specialized care, they will get it at the campus that is best suited to treat their condition. For some, that may mean traveling from Manteca to Modesto; for others, it may mean travel in the opposite direction. But for any member who needs ambulance transport between campuses, we provide that free of charge, and the ambulance traffic has no effect whatsoever on emergency response in either city. 

Since December, we also have offered free shuttle service between the campuses, which helps families visit hospitalized loved ones without driving themselves. The shuttles also are open to members who need a ride to and from doctors’ appointments or tests at either campus.

Again, we understand the sentiments on display at the June 3 City Council meeting. But we want the Council and all of Manteca to understand that the way we are organizing and concentrating specialty care at our two hospital campuses is a proven way of providing the highest quality of that care, which should be a source of pride for all of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

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