RNs make Kaiser address failed call center rollout

NewsMarch 14, 2024

When Kaiser introduced a regional call center that left psychiatric nurses inundated with messages and patients potentially waiting too long for care, the nurses successfully organized to demand improvements.

Until last summer, Kaiser had local call centers for psychiatric nurses that operated well. But in a bid to save money through consolidation, Kaiser rolled out a regional call center starting in San Diego.

It was an instant mess that only got worse as the rollout expanded throughout last year. The call center didn’t route messages appropriately.

High acuity issues weren’t being flagged properly and the burden fell on nurses to solve the errors and protect patients who needed assessments or new medicine.

“The incorporation of the regional call center was inadequate and compromised our ability to triage properly and provide safe, timely care to our patients,” said Christian Reeves, a psychiatric RN for Kaiser in Sylmar.

The nurses filed a cease-and-desist order and demanded to meet with management. The meeting took place in January with the nurses explaining in detail how the new regional call center was putting patients at risk and making their jobs more difficult.

Kaiser managers didn’t admit they screwed up, but they started fixing the problems. There’s been a significant decrease in errors and misrouted calls over the past month.

“This episode is a lesson that we have the power to stand up for our patients, each other, and compel Kaiser to address our concerns,” Reeves said. “It’s frustrating that Kaiser seemed to be imprudent with the roll out of the regional call center, but I’m proud of how we responded, and I know we’ve improved care for our patients.”