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Protesters rally against TCU closing

• Hospital's Transitional Care Unit set to close on June 5

Posted: May 14, 2008 2:10 a.m.
Updated: July 15, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Mary Roberts, from Santa Clarita, proudly waves her sign at passing cars. The group gathered outside City Hall to protest the closing of the Transitional Care Unit at Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital.

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Just minutes after nearly 30 senior citizens and senior advocates marched in front of City Hall on Tuesday evening to protest the closure of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial's transitional care unit, Councilwoman Laurene Weste announced that in the coming years, seniors will have another option.

While Newhall Memorial plans to close its TCU by June 5, G and Healthcare Services is now in escrow in purchasing what was formerly the Hillside Community Hospital building in Saugus.

The transitional care unit is typically occupied by mostly seniors and is meant for patients who have been discharged from the hospital but are not well enough to go home.

The $30 million single story building in Saugus will likely be a 75-bed transitional care unit, Weste said.

She said she estimates it could take 2 to 3 years before the new facility opens its doors since the timeline is contingent on approval by the state.

"A lot of us will need transitional care and we need it in Santa Clarita," Weste said.

The building is on Golden Triangle Road in Saugus and has been closed for more than 25 years.

She also said she "can't think of a better location" since the building is large enough for expansion.

Though many of the seniors were grateful for the news, some said they said they hoped a new skilled nursing facility would be built before the existing TCU closes.

"The worst thing in the world that a senior citizen can have happen to them is to have somebody turn their back on them and walk away," said Newhall resident Mary Roberts. "I am going to be 88 next year. What am I going to do?"

Newhall Memorial officials announced last week that the hospital Board of Directors approved the plan to convert 27 transitional care unit beds to general surgical beds by June 5.

Officials said there is a larger demand for general hospital beds than transitional care beds.

Seniors and advocates, however, have shown concern that a lack of skilled nursing options in the Santa Clarita Valley means many patients will resort to skilled nursing facilities in the San Fernando Valley, far from their doctors and families.

Council members decided to draft a letter to Newhall Memorial officials reflecting the community's concerns. Council members also directed city staff to look into ways to help TCU patients and their families in the years before the new TCU opens.

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