Kaiser members revamp website, reach out to patients
On the heels of the largest mental health strike in U.S. history, we are revamping our KaiserDontDeny.org website to highlight the plight of Kaiser members who suffered when they or their loved ones could not get the mental health therapy they needed.
Here is a portion of what Shirlee Zane, a Sonoma County Supervisor, wrote about her husband, Peter Kingston, who died by suicide.
Kaiser failed my husband, Peter Kingston, and now he’s dead.
Peter was experiencing increasing anxiety and reached out to Kaiser for help. He received a brief screening and an hour-long intake, and was diagnosed with panic disorder and major depression. Kaiser booked him for an Introduction to Anxiety Disorders group class and the next available therapy appointment – 42 days out.
We had an incredibly wonderful and happy life and marriage, but he got sick and he didn’t get treated by his provider. Two weeks after his first group class, and two weeks before his next therapy appointment, Peter hanged himself.
More than 630 patients have shared their Kaiser horror stories though the website. Several NUHW-represented Kaiser clinicians have volunteered to contact those patients who need urgent care and alert Kaiser that immediate intervention is required.
Kathy Ray, a licensed clinical social worker, has volunteered reaching out to patients who shared their stories to make sure they get the care that was denied to them.
“These are heartbreaking stories that remind us why we went on strike and why we are continuing our fight to improve Kaiser,” Ray said.
“What struck me is that as a generalist, I had become so acclimated to my workload and trying to manage my schedule that I had adjusted to the Kaiser standard of care; a return schedule that pushes people in need of consistent therapy out to every 4 – 6 weeks or more. This isn’t good therapy or even close to the clinical standard. We need to push for more for our patients and from Kaiser. When you step back, talk to and read the stories of these people you are reminded that it is peoples lives and needs that a therapist needs to prioritize. In the Kaiser system this is all but impossible. We need to ethically push for more access and an opportunity to provide better care.”