Press Release

Kaiser RNs Condemn the Downgrading of Care for New Oakland Hospital

Increases in denial of care leads to 1,400 unsafe incidents reported by nurses in 2013
RAIN OR SHINE: Nurse Vigil— Crisis of Care in Oakland-Thursday 2 p.m.

Kaiser Permanente registered nurses will be holding a vigil Thursday to denounce major patient care reductions proposed for the new Oakland facility which is currently under construction and expected to open this summer, the California Nurses Association announced today.   
Kaiser is attempting to cut 75 nursing positions in the move to the new hospital. But nurses across all units said that they are responsible for more patients per shift than ever before. The reduction in direct-care RNs comes at a time when six out of 10 insured Californians have Kaiser, a number that is expected to increase significantly under the Affordable Care Act.  
What:            Kaiser Oakland Nurse Vigil            
When:           Thursday Feb. 27, 2014—2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. RAIN OR SHINE
Where:          Kaiser Oakland Medical Center (Howe Street entrance)
                       280 W. MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, California 94611

"Despite making $2.7 billion last year Kaiser isn’t providing the nurses what we need to adequately take care of our patients,”  said Yolanda Owens an RN for more than ten years who works in the transitional care unit  at Oakland.  “On top of that when we move to the new building, Kaiser wants to further erode care to our diverse community by eliminating critical care specialty units. This worries me tremendously as a nurse and a community member.  I am calling on Kaiser to reverse course and give us what we need to take care of our patients."
The 1,402 unsafe patient care incidents filed by the RNs last year was double the number reported in the previous year. The filings reflect examples of how patient care has suffered as a result of fewer RNs and point to the growing patient care crisis at the Oakland facility. These include:

  • Elimination of transitional care units (TCU) where patients require close monitoring.  Instead, these patients will go to general medical surgical floors where they can’t be adequately cared for because nurses have responsibility for more patients, a trend that has been occurring with intensive care unit patients as well.
  • RNs in the neonatal intensive care units are being assigned an unsafe number of critically ill infants from one or two at most to three.
  • Women in labor now spend hours in the waiting room and in triage before they are admitted to their own rooms due to lack of available nurses.
  • Longer wait times for admission to the hospital from the emergency room due to lack of available nurses to care for them.
  • A plan to eliminate all heart monitor technicians whose primary responsibility is to watch for abnormalities in heart rhythms. RNs will be expected to carry phones that will display their patients’ heart rhythms, which will alarm when rhythms change. Serious safety issues have been reported in Kaiser facilities using these devices, including dropped or missing pages, resulting in missed changes in heart rhythms.

Kaiser RNs have been documenting the outcomes of the HMO’s new model that makes it harder for patients to be admitted for hospital care when ill, sending patients home or to other settings when they should still be in the hospital, and holding patients whose health status suggests they should be in a hospital bed in “observation units” for up to 24 hours and then sent home without being admitted before they are fully recovered.
According to their own published figures, Kaiser netted $2.7 billion in profits last year on $531 billion in operating revenue, with both figures topping 2012 results.