KAISER PERMANENTE: Nurses, Hospitals Square Off
"At dueling news conferences Wednesday, Bay Area hospitals and a nurses union sparred over the impact of a two-day nurses strike planned next week at Kaiser Permanente hospitals," the San Jose Mercury News reports. Kaiser hospital administrators are calling the January 28-29 walkout "a threat to public health during one of the worst flu seasons on record." The Hospital Council of Northern and Central California said a strike by Kaiser nurses will leave the Bay Area's remaining hospitals with a dangerously heavy patient load (Feder, 1/22). "[The California Nurses Association] is gambling with the public's health. It is inappropriate and unprofessional to use the community's health as a bargaining chip," said hospital council regional vice president Lynn Baskett (DeBare, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22). The CNA said that Kaiser officials are the ones at fault for endangering patients through past cutbacks in nursing, emergency and acute care services at hospitals (Mercury News, 1/22).
The planned strike of 7,500 registered nurses will impact all 54 of Kaiser's Northern California hospitals, clinics, laboratories and administrative offices. Kaiser administrators plan to handle the shortage by importing temporary nurses from other areas, as well as canceling elective surgeries and transferring patients to other hospitals. The strike will be the fourth since the contract for registered nurses expired one year ago. "Contract negotiations broke down during Thanksgiving weekend and have not resumed," the Mercury News reports (1/22).