LOS ANGELES – Unionized nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center began a 24-hour strike Thursday amid labor contract talks, claiming staffing shortages and lapses in care, but hospital officials called the move an attempt to disrupt services as a bargaining tactic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging and stressful time to work on the front lines of health care,” according to a statement from Kaiser. “We are extremely grateful for our Kaiser Permanente health care employees, whose commitment to providing care over the last two-and- a-half years has been nothing short of inspiring.”
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, the union that represents the nurses at Kaiser, say the strike is to address concerns about patient care and safe staffing, areas they claim have suffered during the pandemic.
“In the last four months, we have seen 50 nurses leave our hospital due to the poor working conditions that put patient care in jeopardy,” Tinny Abogado, a registered nurse with 26 years experience, 20 of those years at Los Angeles Medical Center, said in a statement. “I have spent two decades at this hospital caring for this community. It pains me to see experienced nurses leave our hospital.
“When they walk out the door they take knowledge and expertise that is critical in caring for our patients. Nurses are leaving because they work 12- hour shifts without a break. They reach for supplies and they are just not there. Kaiser made $8.1 billion in profits last year, they have enough money to make sure we have syringes when we need them, ancillary staff to help care for our patients, and relief nurses to provide RNs with meal breaks.”
Kaiser Permanente representatives said they want to reassure members and patients their care is a top priority, and will remain so during the one- day strike by the nurses.
“As such, we have contingency plans in place to ensure members and patients will continue receiving uninterrupted delivery and access to high- quality health care during this one-day strike. These plans include filling expected nurse vacancies with temporary nursing staff, and shifting trained and experienced management staff into appropriate support areas as needed. We don’t expect this event to impact already scheduled procedures and services,” according to a released statement.
The California Nurses Association represents about 1,000 nurses at Los Angeles Medical Center, 4867 Sunset Blvd.
Kaiser Permanente added in its statement: “We look forward to continued discussions at the bargaining table because it is the best way to resolve differences and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”