Kaiser Permanente Responds To Claims from Nurses’ Union

Kaiser Permanente is vigilant about patient safety, and we are recognized nationally and internationally for consistently providing high-quality health care to our members and the communities we serve.

By Karl Sonkin
Media Relations at Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is vigilant about patient safety, and we are recognized nationally and internationally for consistently providing high-quality health care to our members and the communities we serve. Our nurse staffing levels comply with, and sometimes exceed, state-mandated staffing requirements at our hospitals.

Statement from Gay Westfall, Senior Vice President, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan Northern California:

We are extremely disappointed to receive a notice from CNA for planned picketing. Kaiser Permanente is vigilant about patient safety, and we are recognized nationally and internationally for consistently providing high-quality health care to our members and the communities we serve.

The union leadership's claims about Kaiser Permanente 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.

Nurse Staffing Levels

Our nurse staffing levels comply with, and sometimes exceed, state-mandated staffing requirements at our hospitals. For example, in addition to meeting the ratios, we increase staffing as necessary for patients based on the complexity of their medical condition and acuity.

We greatly value the skill, dedication, and compassion of our nurses, and we appreciate the work they do every day to provide the very best personalized care for our patients.

Transforming care

Our focus on quality and prevention is keeping people healthier and is often preventing illnesses and diseases from happening in the first place. For example, in the past 10 years, Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California have seen a 24-percent drop in heart attacks and a 62-percent decline in serious heart attacks, and a 26-percent reduction in stroke mortality in just the past four years.

This work is not only saving and improving lives, it is also resulting in shorter and less frequent hospitals stays for our patients, and in many cases preventing hospitalizations entirely.

Additionally, we are seeing an ongoing shift in our care delivery from the hospital to other settings such as outpatient clinics, and from those clinics to patients’ homes, over the phone and online. We expect this trend to continue as we provide high-quality care and service to our members where and when they want it.

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.

Discussions with CNA

In late November we reached out to the union, and to our nurses, and expressed our desire to bargain in good faith with CNA to address the need to align staffing with the current numbers of patients in our hospitals, which are declining for the all the right reasons – quality, service and improved utilization.  

As we have told CNA and communicated to our nurses, if CNA is willing to work 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, as we solve our staffing issues by assigning and placing nurses where our patients are getting their care across the care continuum.

Unfortunately, CNA is mischaracterizing the issue at hand and making untrue claims about our staffing and intentions. 

Temporary RNs

All temporary assignments are initially offered to KP nurses who may be seeking additional work or experience. If no KP nurses express interest in these assignments, we hire trained and qualified temporary nurses.

About half of the temporary nurses we hire provide coverage for KP nurses on leaves of absence. As we have said to CNA, we believe that challenges such as having too many nurses in some departments, and the need to supplement staffing in others, can be resolved. We simply need to work together to realign staffing--so our nurses are where our patients need them, providing the right care, at the right time in the right setting—and create training opportunities for KP nurses in specialties where we have needs, such as labor and delivery, critical care, and the operating room.

Doris Johnson December 12, 2012 at 12:40 AM
I was a member and I left because I felt like I could not get a doctor to look me in the eye and face me while I was there for a visit. I had issues and felt like the issues were not important enough to speak WITH me. My new doctor is a face to face talk to me kind of guy and my new plan is much better
TheRealBigCouchPotato December 12, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Kaiser is way overrated. They specialize in denying service. All their efforts are aimed at keeping you out of the office. I'm not happy with them, but they are the same as all the other big medical companies. They all stink. And I don't believe a pitch man for the company.
Giorgio C. December 12, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Sometime ago, I had come across a union flyer in the Kaiser lobby, called the Assignment Despite Objections (ADO) form. Example of form http://www.wsna.org/labor/ado/documents/ADO.pdf The nurses are having to create their own mechanism to document safety and quality concerns? The hospitals are not providing this mechanism themselves with their own quality program? I contacted the Kaiser Quality Assurance staff who sent me a letter stating that the ADO form is a formal part of their quality program. Does Kaiser hold public Quality Assurance meetings the way Doctor's Hospital does? Here are some WCCHCD meetings http://www.wcchd.ca.gov/meeting.cfm Kaiser does have its share of Administrative Penalties, but maybe no more than anyone else. Picketing is not the solution. They should report concerns to those tasked with hospital oversight. If their concerns are valid, a patient could die while they are picketing. Perhaps this is really about bargaining? http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountyAlameda.aspx http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountySanFrancisco.aspx http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountySantaClara.aspx http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountyFresno.aspx http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountyLosAngeles.aspx http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountySanBernardino.aspx http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/APCountySanDiego.aspx
Giorgio C. December 15, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Are some Kaiser employees greedy? I work for the state of California. Where I work, many employees are leaving their jobs to work for Kaiser because Kaiser pays so much more than the state of California. This has been killing our morale and some of us are wondering if we made a mistake with our choice of employer. I really like my job, but the exodus to Kaiser is a slap in my face. What is even worse are my colleagues who work part time at Kaiser. They tell me they make in 3 shifts as much as I make in one week. It is becoming a joke. Even our supervisors leave in the middle of the day to go work for Kaiser for an occasional shift. Seriously! Worse yet, I am a Kaiser member, so I am paying the salaries of those who have my same job description, but who make much more money than I do. What's going on?! You tell us how you are getting screwed, but I am seeing the opposite. Everyone is leaving my employer to go work for Kaiser. And I am supporting this with my Kaiser dues. Here is my bargaining contract history http://www.calhr.ca.gov/state-hr-professionals/Pages/bargaining-contracts.aspx#bu10 I would like to see the contracts for those employees working at the Kaiser laboratory in Berkeley, specifically the microbiologists. If I sound resentful, it is because I am.
Heather Swanson January 18, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Kaiser Permanente= Communism/Socialism on the rise. Just look at their little crown emblem with what looks like a North Korean burst of sun. The union is a sham just to cover emplyees as a whole, but it has not stopped KP from eliminating 40% of RN's in the Denver area (projected) in 2013. They keep wages high to scare employees into staying no matter what; tyrant bosses, incompetent fellow employees who are favored due to seniority, and a never-ending round of reviews and sanctions at the whim of a supervisor or manager. Nearly the only way to get a job with KP is by knowing someone who already works within the corporation; it's all about who you know, NOT what you know.


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