Friday, February 12, 2010

Kaiser Seems Determined to Give Local ER's and 911 More Business

By Alan Banov.

Did you hear that Kaiser is shutting down its urgent care department at its Kensington Center? And it’s sharply curtailing the other vital services (pharmacy, laboratory and x-rays).

Just after the close of Open Season, in a bait-and-switch move, Kaiser Permanente announced that it will close the Urgent Care after-hours center at its Kensington Center, requiring members from the down-County area and even Northwest DC to drive all the way to Shady Grove when they need urgent care. See the attached letter we received from Kaiser just this week. It announces that these changes will take effect as of February 28 -- less than three weeks from now.

Check out their statement that they are "pleased" to terminate these services. Such chutzpah! How do you think the County would react if Ike Leggett were to announce that he was "pleased" to reduce plowing services dramatically!

This is a matter of life and death for many Kaiser members who may not be able to make it to Shady Grove when they are in need of urgent care. These are senior citizens in their 70s and 80s who may not be able to drive themselves to Shady Grove after dark, especially when they are ill; mothers of children with asthma who will now have to sit on I-270 in rush hour while their children are struggling to breathe; and single adults suffering from a variety chronic illnesses who can't possibly drive themselves to Shady Grove during an acute episode.

The Kensington urgent care center serves people from Northwest DC (the only other urgent care center is in Penn Quarter) and the entire down-county area of Montgomery County. This service change will, of course, place a greater burden on our County services, since many patients will probably end up calling 911 when they need urgent care. They may very well end up at area emergency rooms, which are already over-burdened, because they are too ill to make the 30-45 minute ride to Shady Grove, especially at rush hour. I personally know there have been times when I could barely drive the one mile from my home to the Kensington urgent care center; I could not possibly have made it to Shady Grove.

Details are in a new blog which Daphne White has started:

MPW readers: Could you please contact Kaiser Permanente right away and help us persuade them that this move will be harmful to their members! Specifically, you may contact Marilyn Kawamura, president of Kaiser Permanente for the Mid-AtlanticRegion at or 301-816-2424 ext. 0. In addition, please contact Kaiser's medical director, Bernadette Loftus. Her email is, and her phone number is 301-816-5239.

Please contact me at my office number (301-588-9699) or at, or fellow Kaiser member Daphne White (301-949-0378) if you need more information or want to help us. (Daphne is the leader of this movement, and she created the blog!)


Alan Banov