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Monday, July 4, 2022

Nurses at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles go on a one-day strike

Hundreds of nurses at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles staged a one-day strike on Thursday, June 23, saying they were understaffed, overworked and lacking the supplies needed to properly perform their jobs.

Nearly 700 of the facility’s 1,200 nurses were on hand holding signs reading “Strike for safe patient care.”

Nurses, represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Association (CNA/NNU), say their ranks are thinning at an alarming rate.

“Over the past four months, we have seen 50 nurses leave our hospital due to poor working conditions that jeopardize patient care,” said Tinny Abogado, who has been a registered nurse at LAMC for 20 years. “It pains me to see experienced nurses leaving our hospital.”

Nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles went on a one-day strike on Thursday, June 23, 2022 as they negotiate a new employment contract that includes staffing and wages. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

When they walk out the door, she says, they take their knowledge and experience in patient care with them.

Abogado said nurses often work 12-hour days without a break.

“They’re reaching out for supplies and they just don’t have it,” she said. “Kaiser made an $8.1 billion profit last year – they have enough money to make sure we have syringes when we need them, support staff to help care for our patients and nurses to provide nurses with lunch breaks.

Nurses say patient care is jeopardized when they are expected to care for too many patients without the help of support staff and work non-stop.

Kaiser said it called in temporary nurses and moved management staff to support roles to ensure work continued during the strike.

“We are disappointed that the California Nurses Association, which represents about 1,200 nurses at our Los Angeles medical center, is urging our nurses to get away from their patients’ beds,” Kaiser said in a statement released late Wednesday. “We look forward to continuing the negotiations at the negotiating table because this is the best way to resolve differences and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”

The nurses’ employment contract expired on September 30, 2021, and they have been negotiating a new agreement ever since, with little to no progress on key issues. They urge Kaiser to invest in nursing staff, ensure every department has the right supplies on every shift, and invest in support staff.

Kaiser acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has been “an incredibly challenging and stressful time to work on the front lines of healthcare.” Management said it continues to hire staff “at a rate that is in line with the growth and needs of members” and also offers training assistance for current staff, scholarships and residencies for future staff, and grants to expand opportunities in degree programs.

Helen Musheghian, who worked at LAMC for three years, says day-to-day work can be stressful.

“We feel like we’re running from room to room in a marathon from the start of our shift to the end,” said the 26-year-old Los Angeles resident. “I came into nursing to provide excellent patient care. But without the necessary resources, supplies, and support staff, we won’t be able to do our best.”

Nurses say there are shortages of syringes, IV kits and other supplies in some wards.

“This job is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting because we use our body and mind to the fullest in the process of caring for our patients,” said Brian Telforth, an intensive care unit nurse. “We need and deserve an uninterrupted lunch break that allows us to relax and regroup so we are energized and refreshed to provide the best possible care.”

Nurses At Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center In Los Angeles Went On A One-Day Strike On Thursday, June 23, 2022 As They Negotiate A New Employment Contract That Includes Staffing And Payroll.  (Photo By Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/Scng)
Nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles went on a one-day strike on Thursday, June 23, 2022 as they negotiate a new employment contract that includes staffing and wages. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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