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Rides to a transitional care unit offered

• City, county to help patients get to San Fernando Valley skilled nursing facility

Posted: May 21, 2008 2:42 a.m.
Updated: July 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
The city and county will soon be offering transportation for families with patients staying at a San Fernando Valley skilled nursing facility in response to fears that the closure of the local transitional care unit will mean frequent trips outside of Santa Clarita to visit their loved ones.

The transitional care unit at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is set to close within two weeks and, although plans are in the works for a health care company to develop a new transitional care unit in Santa Clarita, it could take up to three years for those plans to come to fruition.

The transitional care unit acts as a stepping stone for patients who have been discharged from the hospital but are not yet ready to go home.

The only skilled nursing facility in Santa Clarita is the Santa Clarita Valley Convalescent Hospital and it's usually at capacity, said Brad Berens, director of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center. A big concern among local seniors and their families has been the hardship families would face in having to drive to the San Fernando Valley to visit family members in skilled nursing facilities.

Beginning June 1, the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center will begin offering transportation on weekdays for family members of patients staying at Astoria nursing and rehabilitation center in Sylmar, the most frequently used skilled nursing facility outside of Santa Clarita, Berens said. The senior center would provide transportation to other skilled nursing facilities if needed.

"We would make every effort to get people to where they need to go," Berens said.

Beginning the first week of June, the city's Route 8 bus to the San Fernando Valley will be adjusted to provide regular bus transportation directly to Astoria a few times each day and will continue to do so as long as it is needed, said City Councilwoman Laurene Weste.

Astoria is owned and operated by G & E Healthcare, which is now in escrow to purchase the four-acre complex that was once home to the Hillside Community Hospital in Saugus more than 25 years ago. The facility would have a 75-bed transitional care unit, Weste said.

"The G & E project will answer our community's need for a state-of-the-art transitional care facility and more assisted living space, now and well into the future," she said.

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