News and views from NUHW: August 2014

August 8th, 2014

NUHW members keep the fight alive for Contra Costa County’s most vulnerable residents
NUHW members joined with the California Nurses Association in a July 30 rally and march to save Doctors Medical Center, the safety net hospital in San Pablo that serves the poor and indigent population of western Contra Costa County. NUHW-CNA members are urging the county’s Board of Supervisors to find a viable plan to fund the financially troubled public district hospital and incorporate it into the county’s public health care system. See the video and slideshow here.

Bargaining updates
Bargaining is in progress at several NUHW workplaces. Kindred Westminster (Orange County), Santa Rita Jail and Glenn Dyer Detention Center (Alameda County), Visiting Nurses Association of Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz County), and San Rafael Health and Wellness Center (Marin County) are bargaining first contracts. Workers at Kindred Brea (Orange County) and St. Joseph Eureka (Humboldt County) are preparing for first-contract negotiations by filling out bargaining surveys and electing bargaining committees. And workers at Providence Tarzana Medical Center (Los Angeles County), Lakewood Medical Center (Los Angeles County), and Los Alamitos Medical Center (Orange County) are preparing to bargain second contracts.

New “Care Denied” webpage
NUHW has overhauled its webpage about Kaiser’s mental health care crisis. At NUHW.org/Kaiser, you’ll find videos, the “Care Delayed, Care Denied” report, links to supporting documents, and a complete archive of press coverage. The page also includes a link to the Kaiser Patient Advocate, an NUHW-produced website that provides resources for patients who experienced delays in Kaiser mental health care.

Kaiser mental health care crisis in the news
Kaiser Permanente’s mental health care crisis is generating headlines. Most recently, Jon Brooks of KQED public radio and television published two stories on KQED’s website, on July 1 and July 17. On July 21, Brooks was interviewed by his colleague Mina Kim for the station’s California Report broadcast. Brooks spoke of Kaiser’s scheme to meet state requirements for timely initial appointments by shifting resources from follow-up appointment access — robbing Peter to pay Paul, as Brooks put it.

Brooks’ reporting followed a series of Santa Rosa Press Democrat stories on the crisis by Martin Espinoza. The first covered NUHW’s call for a federal investigation into Kaiser’s failures in mental health care. The second covered Santa Rosa clinician Andy Weisskoff’s effort to draw attention to the crisis. The third interviewed Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, whose husband committed suicide during a 42-day wait for an appointment with Kaiser Santa Rosa, where he sought treatment for panic disorder and major depression. And the fourth story covered Zane’s letter to Kaiser, which was prompted by Kaiser officials’ insensitive remarks in the previous stories. Zane criticized Kaiser for turning a blind eye to its deficiencies in mental health and for scapegoating NUHW clinicians working to improve Kaiser’s psychiatric services.

The National Psychologist also picked up the story, running an article on the front page of its August–September edition.