Dozens of nurses began picketing outside Kaiser Permanente-Richmond Tuesday as part of a two-day strike involving 18,000 Kaiser nurses in Northern California.
The nurses unions, locked in contentious contract negotiations with Kaiser, are decrying cuts to staffing and patient services and what they call a lack of preparedness for treating patients with Ebola.
The hospital will remain open during the two-day strike, although elective procedures and routine appointments may be rescheduled. According to KQED, Kaiser is spending $20 million each day of the strike to hire more than 2,800 temporary nurses.
Picketers at Kaiser-Richmond on Tuesday said the nurse population has dwindled by about 400 to 280 at the hospital while patient count has increased, which threatens patient safety and care.
They said Doctor Medical Center’s financial struggles, which has forced the diversion of ambulance service from the San Pablo safety-net hospital to area hospitals, including Kaiser-Richmond, has exacerbated the problem.
“We demand that Kaiser put the $12 million they make a day into patient care,” Kaiser-Richmond nurse Zita Ibrahim said.
The Richmond Standard has attempted to contact a Kaiser spokesperson Tuesday morning. We’ll update this post as soon as we get a response.
In a statement, the California Hospital Association (CHA) blasted the strike action as “politically motivated” and meant to “exploit public concern about Ebola to promote their own agenda.”
On Ebola, the CHA said the state’s hospitals are following “clinical evidence consistent with medical experts and recognized authorities on infectious diseases, including the federal Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the nation’s four high-level biocontainment unit hospitals.”