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Nurses at Kaiser planning picket
December 08, 2012, 05:00 AM Daily Journal Staff Report

Nurses at 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals, including two in San Mateo County, plan to picket later this month over what they say is "persistently inadequate” staffing in emergency care which leads to patients being turned away.

The afternoon picket planned for Dec. 19 includes the South San Francisco and Redwood City medical centers.

The nurses are alarmed that Kaiser Permanente is "consistently and systematically failing to provide sufficient staff to take care of their patients, Zenei Cortez, co-president of the California Nurses Association wrote in a letter to incoming Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson.

Comments from Cortez’s letter were released Friday in the announcement of the strike by CNA and National Nurses United.

CNA, which represents 17,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente facilities, claims short staffing is a chronic problem throughout the hospitals but in particular emergency rooms, labor and delivery and general medical units. Kaiser also sends patients home prematurely, CNA contends.

Specifically, the nurses are asking the organization to immediately address short staffing by making decisions on patient need rather than regional budget goals, admit all patients who need care rather than first placing them in 23-hour observation units and staff hospitals with permanent nurses rather than overly relying on temporary and travel RNs.

Kaiser Permanente officials expressed disappointment about the planned picketing because they are vigilant about patient safety and care.

"The union leadership’s claims about Kaiser Permanente have little to do with facts, and are a tremendous disservice to the outstanding work being done each and every day by our nurses, physicians and staff on behalf of our members and patients,” Gay Westfall, senior vice president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan Northern California, said in a prepared statement.

Picketing will happen from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19.

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