500 RNs March on Kaiser Permanente Headquarters Say â€˜Donâ€™t Be Reason for Unsafe Holiday Season'
Nurses Protest Closures, Cuts in Hospital Care
More than 500 registered nurses from Kaiser facilities throughout Northern California, joined by patients, other hospital workers, and community supporters, marched on Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland, Ca. headquarters with a call to on the HMO giant to stop the reductions in hospital care.
Singing holiday-themed carols – “Kaiser better watch out, better not cut, better not reduce our RN staff, the California nurses are in town,” and echoing chants like, “we want justice for our patients,” the RNs stepped up what has been a fall campaign of protest.
The RNs are protesting a number of Kaiser policies, including restrictions and denials of patient care throughout the system, exemplified by the closure of Kaiser Hayward's in-house pediatrics unit on November 17 and the slow death of Kaiser Manteca, which suffered a drastic reduction in vital services during the past year.
These cuts cause hardship to Kaiser patients and their families, who are forced to travel longer distances to access hospital services, and care for family members at home who have been denied access or prematurely released from the hospital.
With over $2 billion in profits each of the last four years, Kaiser doesn’t need to cut care, RNs say.
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents 17,000 Northern and Central California RNs, applauded the nurses for fighting back against a “Kaiser business plan” which she said is intended to keep patients out of the hospital and kick nurses out of the hospital, restricting the care patients need. “There are lives in the balance.”
"Forcing patients out of the hospital places a triple burden on women," said Patty Bellasalma, president of the California chapter of the National Association of Women (NOW). "We have to work, do most of the childcare and parent care and then when our family members are most ill and need hospitalization they will be sent home; leaving again us to manage it all.”
The mood was festive, as reflected in the caroling which also had a serious overtone:
“Dashing through the halls, are the nurses on their rounds, hoping no one falls, the staffing it confounds (to the tune of Jingle Bells) Bells that patients ring, for meds they need right now. We do our best with everything, while sweat drips from our bow.”