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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Kaiser Nurses and Psychiatric Professionals Strike in Sympathy for Engineers

After a sympathetic strike left some Kaiser Permanente patients without help on Thursday, psychiatric nurses left work Friday morning in solidarity with the striking engineers.

Hundreds of Kaiser employees stood at a picket line on Cottle Road outside Kaiser San Jose Medical Center, holding signs reading “Patients Arrived” and “Staff Safe Now.”

“I think it’s ridiculous that the Kaiser let these workers go on strike for nine and a half weeks,” said Kimberly Sullivan, an intensive care nurse. “It’s just unimaginably sad that the company we have worked tirelessly for during this pandemic for the past two years is turning its back on employees for who they are.”

In response to Friday’s sympathy strike, Kaiser issued a statement: “While staffing continues to be a problem throughout the health care system, we have hired hundreds of nurses and other care team members in recent months and continue to support our teams and their need in a respite. by attracting experienced temporary personnel ”.

Around 20,000 nurses and thousands of mental health professionals, represented by the National Union of Health Professionals, are expected to join the sympathy strike, including at selected other Bay Area Kaiser centers in Fremont, Auckland, Walnut Creek, San Leandro, Antioch. Richmond, Redwood City, South San Francisco and Vallejo. Sympathy strikers will also hold a rally in front of Kaiser’s headquarters in Auckland at noon.

“Nurses know the devastating impact of understaffing on the health and well-being of our community,” said CNA President Katie Kennedy, a registered nurse at Kaiser in Roseville. “We also know that to provide the safe patient care that our communities need and deserve, we must be able to count on our colleagues and they must be able to count on us. In this way, we support Kaiser engineers in their righteous fight for a safe and fair workplace. ”

The engineers, represented by the inpatient engineers of the IUOE, local division 39, who help maintain various systems in hospitals, health centers and other buildings, have been on strike since the expiration of their contract on September 17 in an attempt to raise wages. Kaiser said engineers make more than $ 180,000 in combined wages and benefits and that union leaders are demanding “unreasonable increases” beyond what other unions have demanded.

“I know they are portraying it like we’re being paid a huge amount of money,” said picketer Elaine Lopez, a biomedical engineer at Kaiser San Jose. “This is a bay area, it’s not cheap to live here. All we ask for is justice. We are asking for nothing more than that. That everyone else in this area gets paid in our profession. “

Mental health professionals, who also have expired contracts since Oct. 1, say Kaiser turned down offers to expand staff and hire multilingual and multilingual therapists to ease the “overwhelming” workload in clinics. Kaiser employees say clients are forced to wait one to three months to schedule control therapy.

Mickey Fitzpatrick, a psychologist at Kaiser Pleasanton, said his next available appointment for patients would not be until January.

“We are extremely understaffed, and the number of cases exceeds hundreds,” he said. “We have no limit on the number of our cases. It is unethical to keep clients waiting one to two months, and sometimes three months, to schedule a therapy appointment, and this is incompatible with their standards of care, which suggest that therapy will be effective so that clients are seen at intervals of one to two weeks. “

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According to some mental health professionals, long waiting times can have serious consequences for patients, including death.

“A month is a very long time,” said Joanna Manqueros, a therapist at Kaiser Oakland. “Depression is a serious mental illness and, like an untreated diabetic or an untreated person with severe heart disease, serious consequences can include death, and this is true of many of the mental conditions we treat.”

Fitzpatrick said the “overwhelming majority” of NUHW members would support the strike if it came to that.

Kaiser said he has added hundreds of psychiatrists in the past 5 years and has over 300 open positions so far.

“There is a shortage of psychiatrists in the country, which was already a problem before the pandemic, and over the past year and a half, the need for medical care has grown everywhere,” the Kaiser said in a statement. “We are working to address the shortage of caregivers and ensure that care is available to our members.”

The sympathy strike on Friday came after tens of thousands of Kaiser union workers in the Bay, Central Valley and Sacramento areas, from radiographers to housekeepers, came out with sympathy on Thursday, leaving the health giant struggling to find reinforcements and patients with longer durations. service life. waiting time, and in some cases a complete lack of services.

Kaiser said in a statement that it traded with Local 39 on Tuesday and Wednesday but is still at a wage stalemate.

“We hope to be able to resolve the remaining issues with Local 39 at the negotiating table and come to an agreement that will continue to reward our employees and maintain the availability of healthcare, as we did with several unions this week,” Kaiser said.

Meanwhile, Kaiser said some locations with laboratories, optometry and radiology services, and some outpatient pharmacies will be closed or operate on a reduced schedule this week during sympathy strikes. “Non-urgent” medical procedures or appointments may also be rescheduled or postponed.

The health care provider said he is asking why union leaders are encouraging empathy strikes and that this “will not bring us closer to an agreement, and most importantly, it is unfair for our members and patients to disrupt their treatment when they need our most. … employees will be next to them. “

Union leaders said the Kaiser has enough money to fund resources in health centers that are struggling to withstand the pressures of staff shortages during the pandemic.

“Kaiser has the resources to be the best place to provide and receive mental health care, but it has been chosen as a model for unequal, unethical care,” said Sal Rosselli, President of NUHW. “Kaiser’s refusal to even consider proposals for more staff and better medical care shows that he is not serious about working with clinicians to fix his mental health system.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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