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Thousands of Nurses Take to California’s Streets to Protest Short Staffing; Ebola Concerns

Northern California’s Kaiser Permanente is under siege by its nurses. More than 18,000 nurses belonging to the consortium have decided to go on a two-day strike, beginning Tuesday. The nurses are fighting for better staffing procedures in the hospital and the nurse union representatives say that the hospital chain owes it to its employees to provide adequate staffing so that the nurses who are currently employed do not have to face the crunch and staff shortage problems that they are currently inundated under.

California’s Streets become the Picket Line

The strike is expected to affect Kaiser’s hospitals in Roseville, Sacramento, and south Sacramento. According to nursing home attorneys representing the nurse’s union, the strike is supposed to be split up into two phases. While the first day of the strike was focused on staffing problems and cuts in patient services and safe patient handling practices, the second day of the strike on Wednesday was completely about the ill-preparedness of hospitals across American in light of the recent Ebola scare.

Many people believe it is incredible that Obama does not force Americans into quarantine and still allows flights to come from Western Africa right into America!

10057604706_6c184396b0_qCatherine B. Kennedy, chief nurse representative for CNA at Kaiser’s Roseville Medical Center and clinics made a statement saying that it is imperative that the hospital consortium provide adequate staffing across all 21 of its medical outlets.

The staffing shortage has been a huge issue and all departments of the hospital – the call centers, clinics, and even the home health and hospice services have faced a staff crunch in recent times. The nurses’ union had forged a labor contract with Kaiser administrators which ended on August 31st. After that, the contract was extended twice but it has since expired and the nurses’ union is in no mood to be happy with just lip service.

Kaiser has 21 Outlets; not Enough Staff

Kennedy, the nurse’s union chief representative has also alleged that Kaiser is in the habit of using “travelling nurses” from other states instead of hiring nurses who graduate from California’s own nursing schools. The positions that are left vacant through attrition are also not being filled on time, she says.

Covered California – the Bay State’s take on Obamacare – was launched earlier this year and nursing home attorneys in the state say that California’s nurses have had a hard time dealing with the change. At Kaiser, because of the already short staffing, the problem has been even more magnified and nurses are working under unbearable workloads according to Kennedy.

Hospitals Remain Open Despite Strike

The hospital chain in its defense has refuted all the claims made by the union reps. Clement Miller―the chief nursing officer at the Sacramento unit of the chain hospital, and herself a registered nurse―says that it was really baffling for the union to call a strike right at the beginning of flu season and when the nation is concerned about the Ebola outbreak breaching its shores.

Kaiser Permanente’s hospitals remained open for business throughout the strike. Miller said that all patients who came to Kaiser’s centers during the strike period were given the utmost care and business continued as usual in most cases with a few non-emergency cases being rescheduled for after the strike.