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Nurses Begin Picket at Redwood City Kaiser Hospital Today

The picket will take place at 21 hospitals around the Bay Area.

By Bay City News

Nurses at 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California and the Central Valley plan to hold a one-day picket today in protest of what they allege is inadequate nurse staffing and patient care.

The picketing by the California Nurses Association, which represents about 17,000 nurses at Kaiser hospitals, is set to take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nurses at the Redwood City, South San Francisco and San Francisco Medical Centers will participate in the pickets. 

The nurses' union alleges that low staffing has become a chronic problem in some Kaiser emergency rooms and other hospital areas.

"It breaks my heart to see patients having to wait too long to receive care, or are not able to access care because of the high co-payments that Kaiser is charging for them," nurse practitioner Lauri Hoagland said.

Kaiser Permanente released a statement saying the hospitals will operate normally during the picketing, and that the union's claims "have little to do with facts."

The statement by Gay Westfall, senior vice president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan Northern California, said Kaiser's nurse staffing levels "comply with, and sometimes exceed, state-mandated staffing requirements at our hospitals."

Westfall said hospital officials have limited flexibility to realign staff under their current agreement with the union, so "we have a surplus of hospital RNs every day at certain medical centers and departments throughout the region -- and a need to supplement staffing in others."

Westfall said, "If CNA is willing to bargain earnestly with us, and with flexibility on our nurses' part, we believe we will be able to have a position for every nurse who wants one."

Other hospitals where the pickets will take place include six sites in the East Bay, four in the North Bay and two in the South Bay.

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Karl Sonkin December 19, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Please read the entire statement from Kaiser Permanente online at: http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter/pointofview/2012/121812-cna-nuhw.html The California Nurses Association’s (CNA) and National Union of Healthcare Workers’ (NUHW) informational picketing is NOT a strike. All 21 of our medical centers in Northern California will be operating normally, and our members and patients will continue to receive the same high levels of service and care that they receive every day. We have reached out to CNA to have a conversation about aligning staffing with the current numbers of patients in our hospitals, which is declining for all the right reasons—quality, service and improved utilization. We have not discussed layoffs. Our focus on quality and prevention is keeping people healthier. We are also seeing an ongoing shift in care delivery from the hospital to other settings such as outpatient clinics, and from those clinics to patients’ homes, over the phone and online. This is good news for our patients. At the same time, it means we need to adjust nurse staffing to make sure they are where our members and patients want and need them to be. We are extremely disappointed that union leadership would even consider this response to our outreach. Their claims have little to do with facts, and are a tremendous disservice to the outstanding work being done each and every day by our nurses, physicians and staff on behalf of our members and patients.

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