18K Kaiser Nurses To Strike Over Patient Safety, Ebola Preparedness
On Tuesday, 18,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses will launch a two-day strike in part to protest a lack of adequate equipment and training standards for treating patients with Ebola, Bloomberg reports (Lorin, Bloomberg, 11/8).
The strike coincides with a "national day of action," on which nurses will demand hospitals provide improved training and protection against Ebola (Parr, Daily Review/San Jose Mercury News, 11/7).
Last week, National Nurses United in a statement said that Kaiser had "continued to stonewall on dozens of proposals to improve patient care standards, as well as refusing to address the concern of Kaiser [nurses] about Ebola safety protocols and protective equipment."
The strike will affect 21 hospitals and 65 clinics in California, according to National Nurses United spokesperson Charles Idelson (Bloomberg, 11/8). Nurses at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and Watsonville Community Hospital also will go on strike, according to the union (Daily Review/San Jose Mercury News, 11/7).
In addition to Ebola preparedness, the strike aims to address more than 35 operational proposals, including:
- Filling about 2,000 vacant nursing positions;
- Increasing training and education; and
- Providing protections for use of sick leave and more flexibility over breaks (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 11/9).
Katy Roemer, a nurse at the Kaiser facility in Oakland, said, "The big issue for us is we are not seeing the resources we need on a daily basis to provide safe care." She added, that the nurses are "going on strike about patient safety issues."
Hospital Operations During Strike
Kaiser hospitals will remain open during the two-day strike, but some elective procedures and routine appointments might be rescheduled (Daily Review/San Jose Mercury News, 11/7).
Kaiser has hired more than 2,800 temporary nurses to work during the strike, which could cost up to $20 million per day, according to "State of Health" ("State of Health, KQED, 11/9).
In a statement, the health system said, "The fact is Kaiser Permanente teams have been working on preparations for Ebola nonstop. We are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of each nurse, physician and staff member who may be called upon to provide compassionate, high-quality care for a patient with the Ebola virus."
Kaiser added, "There is never a good time for a strike, but calling one now, just as we are entering flu season, and when the nation and our members are concerned about the risk of Ebola, seems particularly irresponsible" (Daily Review/San Jose Mercury News, 11/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.