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Critics like Kaiser but not Manteca cutbacks
pic kaiser-town-hall-LT
A photo of invited but no-show Kaiser vice president Corwin Harper was taped at the front panel table at Wednesdays Town Hall Cuts & Closures at Kaiser-Manteca Medical Center session held at the Manteca Transit Center. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Gary Lemesh shudders to think if Kaiser-Manteca Medical Center were to make more cuts.

His aging mother is one of 10 long-term patients in sub-acute care, which, according to register nurse Clarice Spann-Reeve, was inherited by Kaiser Permanente after taking over St. Dominic’s Hospital in 2004.

 “Gary’s mom has a mind that’s fully functional. Only her body has given out on her,” she said at the ‘Town Hall on Cuts & Closures at Kaiser-Manteca Medical Center’ session hosted by the California Alliance for Retired Americans on Wednesday at the Manteca Transit station.

Nan Brasmer, statewide president of CARA, called it an “investigatory meeting.”

Lemesh, who lives in Walnut Creek, noted that his mother has been in sub-acute care at Kaiser since April 2011. Prior to that, she was in an intensive care unit in South San Francisco.

He’s thankful for the Manteca facility.

“She goes on monthly shopping trips,” said Lemesh, who indicated that his mother is unable to talk, eat and relies on a ventilator.

When they first arrived, he noticed that sub-acute care was packed. “My mom always had a roommate,” Lemesh said.

Not so today. Recent policy for admittance to sub-acute care, Spann-Reeve said, was reduced, from 100 days to 25 days.

She added that some on the panel – most notably, Jackie Ruby and Karen Eastham – could’ve possibly qualified their loved ones to stay there.

Rudy’s husband, Dennis, suffered from a variety of health issues. He was recently sent to Dameron Hospital in Stockton for treatment – Jackie Ruby was told that Dameron had “better heart doctors” – and later needed rehabilitation. The closest place for that was Manteca Care & Rehabilitation Center.

Not pleased there, she went with her out-of-pocket options and placed him at The Commons. “It wasn’t cheap,” said Jackie Ruby, who lives at nearby Del Webb at Woodbridge.

Eastham and husband also live in Del Webb. She took it upon herself to see that her disabled, cross-the-street neighbor Peggy, who was scheduled for a radical mastectomy for her reoccurring cancer, was taken to surgery.

Instead, Eastham ran into a variety of obstacles at Kaiser. Frustrated, she made several calls to those at the Modesto facility on behalf of Peggy, who is unable to speak.

The same procedure was available at Manteca-Kaiser, Spann-Reeve said.

Those in attendance supported the hospital but are against the cuts and closures.

“This is not against Kaiser,” said Ruth Somera, who is an RN concerned about the impacts on patients, from cuts to transfers. “We just want services restored.

“This building can house these services.”

Betty Wilhoit has glaucoma, making it tough on her to drive her husband to Modesto or Stockton during the evening.

“It’s a difficult situation for us,” she said. “My husband has all these health issues.”

Brasmer said “delays in care and other impacts on seniors, such as being transferred to other hospitals, primarily the Kaiser Modesto Medical Center, (places) a hardship on patients and their spouses.”

She was joined on the panel by Dorothy Aubrey from the Keep Manteca Safe Committee, Amy Glass of the California Nurses Association, and Katie McKenzie, who sat in for senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Corwin Harper. His photo with a band aid strip over his mouth was placed at the front table.

McKenzie is in the labor management partnership at Kaiser.

“Shuttle service is a convenience,” said one man at the session held in the Manteca Transit Center. “What we want is for Kaiser to be the hospital it should be – we want proper care, we want full-time care.”

Meanwhile, Spann-Reeve has spent the past 12 years in sub-acute care.

“They’re a family over there,” said Glass. “They even call Clarice ‘Mom.’”

Lemesh, for one, knows that to be true.

“They make (my mom) feel as if she has life,” he said. “If they closed that floor, she would die sooner than otherwise.”

Lemesh later warned: “Decisions made (by Kaiser) can and will kill people.”