Patricia Tamayo is a Registered Nurse in the Critical Care Unit of Los Angeles' largest hospital, Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center
If I told you that thousands of healthcare workers who provide care to patients at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics every day are routinely forced to work short staffed, to defer patient appointments, to float to unfamiliar departments we're not adequately trained for and to work long hours of overtime while fatigued, you might say, “Well, that’s not Kaiser’s public image.”
Those of us who have seen Michael Moore’s outstanding film ‘Sicko’ know the real Kaiser that hides behind its feel-good ad campaign. While the work conditions above may not fit Kaiser’s promotional self-image, Kaiser RNs and psychologists have repeatedly made all of the above complaints to Kaiser management. The problem is that Kaiser isn’t listening.
That’s why, together with more than 1,100 of my brother and sister RNs, we took the streets outside Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center for three days last month. For two of those days we were joined by Kaiser psychologists and health professionals from across Southern California. And for one of those days, we were joined by more than 20,000 other RNs, psychologists and optical workers from all over California in the largest strike in Kaiser history.
We had good reason to strike against Kaiser.
Kaiser has made $5.7 billion dollars in profits in the last 30 months. Yet Kaiser refuses to agree to reasonable safe staffing language that would protect patients and workers. Just a small part of those billions of dollars in profit could go a long way to ensuring safe staffing at Kaiser Permanente. But when we propose using profits to protect patients and workers, Kaiser just says, “No.”
Kaiser also wants cutbacks. Even though Kaiser is rolling in money, Kaiser wants to eliminate our secure retirement plan and make deep cuts to our health benefits! There’s a simple explanation for this. And it’s not pretty.
Kaiser’s CEO, George Halvorson makes $8 million a year and Kaiser executives have no fewer than 8 separate pension accounts. George Halvorson will never have to worry about making a co-pay or the elimination of his retirement plan. Worse, when George Halvorson refuses to listen to our patient care complaints and our reasonable safe staffing proposals, he’s turning his back on healthcare workers and the patients we care for.
That’s not thriving, that’s absolute greed.
That’s why 21,000 Kaiser workers took to the streets last week. We want to tell the world about Kaiser Permanente, and let folks know how they can help us make things better.
We were thrilled when Michael Moore showed his incredible commitment to workers and to safe patient care by joining us on the picket line. In fact, we made a short video to share with you that we think you’ll like.
After you finish watching it, share it on Facebook with your friends. And if you'd like, you can send Kaiser's executives an email and let them know how you feel.
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