NUHW members demand that Kaiser follow public health orders

KaiserApril 30, 2020

When it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19, public health experts are clear: Even essential businesses like Kaiser Permanente must “maximize the number of employees who work from home,” according to an April 10 order of LA County Health Officer Muntu Davis.

But Kaiser is making many of its psychologists, therapists, psychiatric nurses, health educators and social workers report to Kaiser medical facilities even though nearly all of their appointments are currently being conducted remotely via phone or internet.

On Wednesday, April 29, about 15 NUHW members leafleted outside Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center, demanding that Kaiser change its policy in order to protect its workers from potentially contracting COVID-19.

“We’re just asking Kaiser to follow the guidelines,” Erik Pierce, a licensed clinical social worker, said during the demonstration.

In Northern California, Kaiser is allowing nearly all of its mental health clinicians to work from home during the pandemic. However, in Southern California, Kaiser management is requiring that at least half of its mental health workers do their jobs from inside Kaiser facilities.

Kaiser clinicians know that face-to-face appointments are the best way to provide mental health therapy, but since that’s not an option during the pandemic, Kaiser has no rationale not to let them work from home.

NUHW members will continue to press this issue in Southern California until Kaiser follows the orders of public health officials and lets clinicians work remotely for as long as social distancing measures are in place.