Therapist: Kaiser should be “ashamed” for long wait times, lack of equity in mental health care

November 1st, 2021

The founder and lead clinician at Kaiser Permanente’s La Clínica, a program that serves Latinx residents in Richmond, California, criticized Kaiser for failing its mental health patients.

“We have asked Kaiser again and again to invest in mental health services, and they refuse,” Dominguez said Friday, October 29 during an interview on Hecho in California, a radio show on KIQI 1010 AM in San Francisco.

Hosts Marcos and Isabel Gutierrez invited Dominguez to talk after Dominguez and her fellow Kaiser clinicians in Northern California voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike because of Kaiser’s refusal to consider proposals to increase staffing and improve access to care.

Dominguez said Kaiser should be “ashamed” for making its most vulnerable patients “wait up to two months” to speak to a clinician.

“We, the clinicians, don’t have enough appointments to offer our patients when they need it,” Dominguez said. “And, Kaiser keeps increasing the number of patients. We’re tired of being exploited, to see our community suffering unnecessarily.”

Dominguez said clinicians are leaving Kaiser because of the working conditions, and that Kaiser has rejected proposals aimed at recruiting more bilingual therapists that can provide culturally competent care for Latinx patients.

“Right now, there’s not a Kaiser clinic in Northern California that offers grief counseling in Spanish, but all clinics offer them in English and that has to change,” she said.

With Kaiser spending millions to market its mental services, Dominguez said patients and purchasers of Kaiser insurance need to know the truth, so they can join with clinicians and demand reforms from Kaiser.

“One is paying for these services and when they have you as a member, they deny it,” she said. “That has to change.”