KPBS: Survey Reveals Problems With Mental Health Care At Kaiser Permanente

NewsNovember 15, 2011

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 — A union-backed survey of providers at Kaiser Permanente shows widespread dissatisfaction with the HMOs’ mental health services. The union representing mental health professionals has been negotiating a new contract.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers surveyed more than 300 mental-health providers at Kaiser facilities in California. Many said they’re not given enough time to evaluate patients, and they’re not able to schedule return appointments in a timely way.

Jim Clifford has been a therapist at Kaiser’s outpatient clinic in Otay Mesa for 10 years. He said mental-health care has gotten short shrift.

“We’re trained to know what adequate care is and to provide it,” he said. “And it’s very troubling ethically to be in a position due to poor staffing not to be able to provide that. And it’s been a chronic situation at Kaiser.”

Clifford said Kaiser has refused to beef up staffing so that mental-health patients can get better care.

Kaiser did not respond to requests for an interview.