Press Release: Therapists to strike Kaiser mental health clinic where patients wait up to 4 months for appointments
Kaiser Permanente mental health therapists to strike Pasadena clinic
Striking therapists to protest their patients having to wait up to four months for appointments
Los Angeles – Mental health therapists on Tuesday announced a one-day strike at Kaiser’s Pasadena clinic to protest severe understaffing that has forced their patients — many of whom have depression, bipolar disorder and other conditions — to wait up to four months for treatment appointments.
The clinic’s more than two-dozen therapists will strike on April 25 unless Kaiser takes immediate action to address crisis conditions at the clinic, including a commitment to immediately hire additional therapists.
“The patients I see this week can’t see me again until August,” said Diana Little, a therapist at the Kaiser Pasadena clinic. “This is abandonment. Our patients are being put in harm’s way, and Kaiser is refusing to work with us to fix the problem.”
Kaiser is currently subject to state-ordered outside monitoring of its mental health services. It has failed three consecutive California State surveys, which cited the HMO for violating California’s Mental Health Parity Act and timely access rules. The state hit Kaiser with a $4 million fine due to the severity of its violations.
In December, 4,000 Kaiser psychologists, therapists, social workers and psychiatric nurses held a five-day strike to protest long wait times for return appointments at Kaiser clinics. While wait times at many clinics across California range from one-to-two months, wait times at the Pasadena clinic now exceed three months.
“Understaffing at Kaiser mental health clinics throughout California is making patients wait far too long to see their therapists, but the situation in Pasadena is particularly egregious,” said Sal Rosselli, President of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents the mental health clinicians. “Kaiser is putting its patients in jeopardy, and it’s putting the licenses of its own clinicians at risk.”