News of the Month — November 2022

NewsNovember 29, 2022

Some of these stories may require a subscription. 

The Petaluma Argus-Courier published a story about a 20-year-old Petaluman who has struggled all his life with anxiety, mania and depression, and who slashed his throat with a razor blade inside the Santa Rosa Kaiser ER after he failed to get a mental health appointment for weeks. This happened at the same time state health officials had been called to investigate the level of care the Santa Rosa emergency room was providing, after reports of at least two attempted suicides came through the same weekend of his throat slashing. The patient is recovering from this incident and says weekly mental health therapy sessions from Kaiser might have made a difference in this latest episode.

NUHW member Andrea Kumura, a licensed clinical social worker at Kaiser’s Waipio clinic, was featured in a Yahoo News story about proposed starting pay for many Kaiser mental health therapists in Hawai’i being about 20% less than their counterparts in Northern California. Hawaii Public Radio also reported on the ongoing strike.

Citing increased inflation rates and lower reimbursement rates, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital declared a fiscal emergency, opening the door for a possible Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. According to KSBW, the decision comes after the hospital’s recent separation from the country’s second-largest insurer, Anthem Blue Cross. Hospital officials said they plan to continue as usual and don’t foresee cutting services or staff.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that starting Jan. 1, 2023 California employers with five or more workers will have to offer all employees at least five days of unpaid leave to grieve the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. This new leave is “separate and distinct from” the 12 weeks of unpaid leave employers must offer workers to care for themselves or family members under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Upon the employer’s request, an employee must provide documentation of the death of the family member within 30 days of the first day of the leave.

Former NUHW member Sarah Soroken, a therapist who recently left Kaiser to work for Solano County’s behavioral health services is included in a Bloomberg Law story about California health insurers having trouble complying with a new state law intended to ensure mental health parity. The story also notes that difficulty and the long delays for behavioral health treatments sparked the 10-week strike by Kaiser therapists who are members of NUHW.