UC Medical Centers To Delay Elective Surgeries Amid Scheduled Strike
Officials at five University of California medical centers said the hospitals are beginning to delay elective surgeries in the face of a possible strike by clinical and technical workers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The strike is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Hospitals are postponing procedures that had been scheduled for as soon as Monday.
John Stobo -- UC's senior vice president for health sciences and services -- said patients are being notified about the strike, which would affect UC hospitals in:
- Los Angeles;
- San Diego; and
- San Francisco (Gordon, Los Angeles Times, 5/16).
Details of Strike
Officials from AFSCME Local 3299 -- a union that represents nearly 13,000 technical workers -- said that about two weeks ago, its members at UC medical centers across the state overwhelmingly authorized a labor strike.
The decision comes after 10 months of failed contract negotiations, according to the union.
UC officials claimed that the strike threats are an attempt to distract from more important issues, such as pension reform (California Healthline, 5/10).
The union has said that during a strike, it would keep weekend-level staffing in critical areas, such as respiratory therapy for intensive care units, neonatal and burn units.
Todd Stenhouse -- a spokesperson for Local 3299 -- said that some strikers would go back to work in the case of medical emergencies but that they would return to picketing after patients are treated (Los Angeles Times, 5/16).
UC is seeking a court injunction to block the planned strike, arguing that it would harm patients (California Healthline, 5/16).
Medical center officials said that if the strike occurred, hospitals would not stop offering emergency care if the strike occurred and patients who already were being treated in the hospitals would continue to receive care.
However, Stobo said that many elective procedures will be postponed until after the strike.
J. Thomas Rosenthal -- chief medical officer at UCLA's hospitals in Santa Monica and Westwood -- said he expects that about 25% of non-essential medical procedures next week would be rescheduled if the strike occurs as planned.
Stobo said that UC would hire temporary replacement workers in the event of a strike and that the estimated cost of the scheduled two-day strike would be at least $15 million in lost revenue and extra pay (Los Angeles Times, 5/16).
On Thursday, KQED's "The California Report" reported on the planned two-day strike at UC medical centers ("The California Report," KQED, 5/16).
Planned Strike by California Nurses Association
In related news, members of the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United on Friday plan to begin a seven-day strike at Sutter Health hospitals in the East San Francisco Bay region.
The union said its planned walkout stems from Sutter's continued demand for cuts in patient care protections and health care coverage (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/16).
Hospitals that would be affected by the strike are:
- Alta Bates Summit Medical Center campuses in Berkeley and Oakland;
- Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley; and
- Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 5/16).