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Nurses, seniors picket Manteca Kaiser hospital
Manteca Kaiser RN Ruth Somera, right, talks about the future of the Manteca Kaiser hospital during Fridays protest. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Kaiser Don’t Break Our Hearts.

That was the message sent forth by seniors and nurses in front of Kaiser Manteca Medical Center early Friday evening, Valentine’s Day.

They chose that day, noted Modesto Kaiser RN Amy Glass, to deliver the significant theme.

“We’re not against Kaiser,” said Manteca RN Ruth Somera. “We want them here.”

What’s needed, however, is the return of a fully functioning hospital, according to those who gathered for this candlelight vigil.

Losses of vital services began January 2013, causing significant delays in patient care compounded by transportation difficulties. As a result, Manteca and Modesto nurses coupled with those living in the Woodbridge Del Webb retirement community became greatly concerned.

“When they first came here, Kaiser was a fully-functional hospital,” Somera said.

Gone are some of the core services. Included are cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, ultrasound as well as the entire medical surgical hospital floor. As a result, Manteca Kaiser members were sent to Modesto Kaiser.

Kaiser recently started a shuttle service – from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily – for Kaiser members and family along with staff, including doctors and nurses.

“But that’s not the answer,” said Somera. “We need services where (Manteca Kaiser) members live and not in Modesto.”

Added Glass: “The community in Manteca deserves a fully functioning hospital and nurses are outraged that Kaiser doesn’t value the members of this community.”

Similar-type vigils including a march and rally took place in November just outside of Kaiser’s headquarters in Oakland. During that time, a delegation of seniors from Manteca accompanied by RNs representing by the California Nurses Association met with Kaiser top executives.

From that, executives promised only to access the situation but not to restore services, with seniors pledging to continue to push for the return of the services.

They’re calling on Kaiser to re-open the hospital’s third floor, Glass said, to admit patients from the emergency department or following surgery, and to stop denying admission to patients in need of longer term recovery services in the second floor sub-acute unit.

Furthermore, they’re calling on Kaiser to bring back critical diagnostic services eliminated a year ago.

“The reason we moved from Alameda to Manteca is because Manteca had what we thought at the time was a fully functioning hospital,” Duane Hadley said.

He and his wife, Rosie, received shocking news last fall when she went in with chest pain.

“After they kept me for eight, 10, 12 hours, I don’t remember how long it was (but) they said I had to transfer to Modesto,” Rosie Hadley said.

“This has been a huge hardship on the community to not have these services,” Glass said.

In addition, the Woodbridge folks and RNs from Manteca Kaiser formed the Keep Manteca Safe Committee. Their goal is to bring awareness to the public and to continue to demand that Kaiser restore vital services while make Kaiser Manteca a fully functioning hospital once again.