Days of Protest Makes a Splash

January 2013

Despite uniquely Southern Californian inclement weather, the Kaiser “Days of Protest” in December involved over a thousand Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Physician Assistants (PAs), Optometrists (ODs) and other supporters, who picketed Kaiser facilities to protest cuts to patient care that will result from Kaiser eliminating 175 UNAC/UHCP health care positions. Picketing took place in the heat at Kaiser South Bay, in the pouring rain at Kaiser Riverside, in the freezing cold at Kaiser Ontario Vineyard and again in the pouring rain at Kaiser Fontana.

Despite Kaiser’s own projections that have them earning $735 million this year, Kaiser claims these cuts are necessary to avoid raising rates on members.

“Kaiser is a very profitable corporation. There is absolutely no financial justification for them to cut patient care or raise rates on families in Southern California,” said Ken Deitz, RN, President of UNAC/UHCP.

“We’re already sometimes out of ratio on this floor, which should be no more than four patients per nurse,” said Javier Rodriguez, an RN in the Emergency Department and the Medical-Surgical and Oncology units at Kaiser South Bay. “Now the staff is being thinned out even more. Ultimately it’s the patients who suffer.”

“The effect of these cuts on patient care will be dramatic,” said Jacque Bowman, RN in Pediatrics at Kaiser Fontana. “When units are short-staffed, with not enough nurses to meet safe nurse-to-patient ratios, our nurses fill out staffing objection forms. In some units at Fontana I’ve seen hundreds of staffing objection forms every month. So how can they safely cut nurses?”

“Riverside residents can expect three-hour wait times in the ER now, because of these cuts,” said Dana Amaral, a Registered Nurse in the Kaiser Riverside Emergency Department. “They cut five Physician Assistants from our ER. Plus, they’re shutting down a whole wing, 3 West, which means ER patients who are being admitted to the hospital won’t have beds. That will back up the ER even more. And they’ve picked the very worst time of year to do this, flu season—our busiest time of the year.”

“We don’t have enough staff now to take care of our patients,” said Paula Marshall, RN at Ontario Vineyard. “What will it be like six months from now? Urgent Care will now close at 7 PM instead of 9 PM. Those patients will have to go to the ER or go all the way to Fontana. That means longer wait times for everyone in the ER. Urgent Care used to be open on weekends. Now it won’t be.”