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Seniors Rally To Save TCU

Residents asking for the City’s power of influence.

 

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Residents hold signs protesting the closure of the TCU

Tuesday night, the battle for the TCU took to the streets and the podium, as a one two punch of activist outcry grabbed the attention of the Santa Clarita City Council.

The TCU, short for Transitional Care Unit, has been treating patients at Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital after they are discharged from regular care, but still need monitoring and less intense treatment before returning home. Henry Mayo has announced that the TCU will be closing up for good on June 5th.

At 5:00 p.m. Tuesday night a group of about 20 Santa Clarita residents, most of them seniors, waved signs along Valencia Blvd in front of City Hall. The signs called for support in their quest to keep the TCU open at Henry Mayo, at least until a replacement facility is found.

However, the TCU was the only facility of its kind in Santa Clarita and therefore a new Unit would need to be opened in order to fill the need.

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After the hour long rally, the group moved inside to City Council chambers and echoed their sentiment.

When they spoke, they did not ask the City to keep the TCU open, acknowledging that the City did not have the authority to prevent the unit from closing. Instead, the group asked for the City’s power of influence, with some speakers even calling on the council to deny Henry Mayo’s upcoming Master Plan for expansion unless they keep the facility open.

There are other roads the City can take too. Warning signs of the TCU’s closure have been apparent for nearly two years, and the City formed a special committee dedicated to finding a new location.

Some good news came from the committee this afternoon, as Council member Laurene Weste reported  that G&E Healthcare, who operates Astoria assisted living center in Sylmar, is now in escrow for a vacant site in Santa Clarita. They will be doing their due diligence over the next few months, and they have asked the City to look into their preliminary plans.

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(L-R)Former Councilman TimBen Boydston, Planning Commissioner Diane Trautman and senior advocate and Doctor Gene Dorio.

Those plans include a 75 bed skilled nursing facility to be connected to a new assisted living center. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $30 million.

And while most of the protesters  were happy to hear the news, they feared what will be a long state approval process, which could prevent a new facility from opening up for at least a year and a half.  “While we can give building permits locally, we cannot give building permits for medical buildings,” Council member Laurene Weste told the crowd.

Another concern of the senior advocates is the distance to the nearest skilled nursing facility. Located in Sylmar, many senior residents are worried about how they will be able to travel to the facility to visit loved ones. Some Council members talked about exploring some public transportation alternatives to the facility as an interim solution.

So while the City Council does not have any immediate authority to act, they do have the ability to fight for an alternative.  

Mayor Bob Kellar brought an idea before the council, to write a letter to Henry Mayo asking them to keep the TCU (or a portion of it) open until a new facility is available to Santa Clarita residents. “I’m going on record saying that the closing of the TCU before another facility is available is an inappropriate course of action,” he said. The rest of the council agreed.

KHTS will follow up to this article when the letter is drafted.


To read up on the other big topics discussed at Tuesday’s City council meeting, click below:

Smiser Ranch Development story.

Code of Ethics story.