Woodland Hills, CA (FOX 11)
To be clear, hospital officials say Kaiser Permanente is not shutting down its children's hematology/oncology unit in Woodland Hills as is rumored. There are, however, changes being discussed. The hospital may be talking about changes in 2017 that would make patient care even better, but information is long on marketing and short in detail.
That ambiguity may be at the root of the confusion that has parents protesting over talk of making them go to Kaiser Sunset in Hollywood instead of the much closer Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills.
On Thursday, parents protested outside the huge Woodland Hills medical center. The protest signs waving in the air had words scrawled on them like "Childhood cancer is full-time" and "Let The Children Thrive".
The parents behind the signs were filled with frustration. They have children suffering from cancer and are terrified the hematology/oncology services at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills will shut down. Officials at Kaiser Permanente insist it's rumor. They don't understand how it got started. But, that aside, there are changes in the works.
The big hospital system has said that “… beginning in 2017 it will be embarking on a new program to help children… by providing specialized inpatient (hospital) care at Kaiser Permanente Pediatric Care Centers.
The protesting parents say “Kaiser is significantly curtailing services.” Hospital officials are denying that. There are those saying the hospital is going to shut down its pediatric cancer unit. Hospital officials say not true.
Dr. Robert Riewerts, Regional Chief of Pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente, says “The hematology/oncology services here at Woodland Hills are not changing. We’re going to continue that as an outpatient service.. most of that care for children is an outpatient service.”
In fact, Dr. Riewerts says the bulk of pediatric cancer needs are outpatient. In an interview, Dr. Riewerts suggested they are talking with parents, getting input from them and sharing some of their visions which include how technology and today's treatment methods can be used in today's much different medical world. He also said it's possible that in the future that those who need to be in hospitals might be sent to a one other than Woodland Hills like Kaiser Sunset in Hollywood.
To the protesting parents, that's unacceptable. One said her daughter can't handle car drives and going to Hollywood from Ventura County could require a two-hour road trip each way.
Hospital officials are adamant that the unit is not closing. It appears, however, whatever changes are being considered, are a work in progress.