Hundreds of psychological well being therapists on the nation’s largest non-profit HMO are poised to strike this week, holding each day picket traces and rallies outdoors Kaiser Amenities all through California.
The unionized psychologists, therapists, chemical dependency counselors and social staff are demanding that Kaiser Permanente present “desperately wanted” providers to its sufferers, claiming that some wait months for wanted remedy periods.
The open-ended strike is ready to start Monday, the Nationwide Union of Healthcare Employees, which represents 16,000 staff in California and Hawaii, mentioned. Kaiser staffs about one full-time psychological well being clinician for each 2,600 members, resulting in therapists leaving Kaiser at a record rate, the union mentioned.
“Sufferers are getting ripped off whereas Kaiser’s coffers are bulging,” union president Sal Rosselli mentioned in a press release. “We don’t take placing evenly however it’s time to take a stand and make Kaiser spend a few of its billions on psychological well being care.”
The strike comes because the nation experiences a surge in psychological well being points. The World Well being Group mentioned the primary yr of the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide. And a pediatrics group final yr declared that psychological well being challenges amongst youngsters in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic had grow to be a “national emergency.”
The union mentioned that sufferers who want remedy each week or each two weeks are ready months to begin remedy regimens, after which one other 4 to eight weeks between appointments.
In a press release, Kaiser Permanente mentioned the 2 key points the events are bargaining over are wage will increase and the union’s calls for to extend the time therapists are in a position to spend on duties aside from seeing sufferers. Kaiser mentioned they’ve proposed a rise in time allotted for administrative work, however the union is demanding extra.
In a launch, the placing clinicians mentioned Kaiser, which reported an $8.1 billion internet revenue final yr, “refuses to adequately spend money on extra workers; take steps to cut back the burnout of present staff; and do what is important to deliver its psychological well being clinics into parity with different well being providers the HMO supplies.”
Kaiser mentioned the union is “exploiting present challenges as a bargaining tactic.”
“Regardless of the union’s dangerous ways, we stay dedicated to bargaining in good religion to achieve a good and equitable settlement that’s good for our therapists and our sufferers,” Deb Catsavas, senior vice chairman of human assets at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, mentioned in a press release.
In 2014, Kaiser was fined $4 million for points with its psychological well being providers. California is also investigating whether or not Kaiser is offering enough psychological well being care to its members.
The clinicians voted in June to go on strike after a yr of failed contract negotiations.
Final November, unions and Kaiser administration reached an agreement to avoid a strike at 14 West Coast hospitals and a whole bunch of clinics and medical workplaces. The strike would have included 32,000 union nurses, doctor assistants, pharmacists and different well being care professionals.