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Nurses Protest What They Say Are Unsafe Staffing Levels

KTVU.com , 8/23/11

RN's protest Kaiser Walnut Creek

August 23, 2011

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- At least 200 registered nurses held a protest Tuesday morning to show their opposition to what they say are chronic unsafe nurse-to-patient staffing levels at Kaiser Permanente's Walnut Creek hospital, according to California Nurses Association spokeswoman Debra Grabelle.
 
According to the union, hospital management has announced plans to eliminate what amounts to about 26 full-time registered nurses at a time when staffing levels are already inadequate.
 
Within the past 18 months, registered nurses have filed 600 separate incidents of unsafe care, which they claim hospital management has largely disregarded, according to the union.
 
"The reductions in core nursing staff is entirely unacceptable considering the inadequate, unsafe staffing we have experienced throughout the KWC facility for over one year," registered nurse Beckie Seitz said in a prepared statement.
 
Grabelle said the hospital has not been filling vacant nursing positions for the past year and a half, which has led to a shortage of nurses.

"We feel it is our duty and our obligation to warn the public that care at our facility is inadequate and unsafe," said Jenny Bacon, a registered nurse and member of the union's bargaining team.
 
Kaiser Permanente Diablo Region Senior Vice President and Area Manager Ginger Campbell said in a prepared statement that the health and well being of the hospital's members and patients continues to be Kaiser Permanente's top priority.
 
She said the Walnut Creek hospital has seen changes in patient volumes over the past several years.
 
Patient volume in some areas has increased while it has decreased in other areas, Campbell said.
 
To help the hospital continue to provide high-quality care and support for nurses in areas where patient volume has increased, hospital management needs to adjust staffing levels in some units, Campbell said.
 
The shift may result in a limited number of changes in shift assignments, hours, departments and locations and a small net loss in nursing positions at the hospital, Campbell said.
 
Despite the changes, Kaiser is willing to ensure that all current nurses are given the opportunity to remain in positions with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Campbell said.

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