Today marks the fifth day of the open-ended strike called by the National Union of Healthcare Workers in Northern California.
Throughout the week of August 15, we at Kaiser Permanente have worked to ensure that we are able to meet our members’ mental health needs.
We continue to reach out to every patient whose appointment with an internal provider is affected to offer another internal care provider or a provider from our network of contracted community providers. Half of our patients receive their care from mental health community providers who are not involved with the strike. For those patients who choose to cancel their own appointment or choose not to reschedule, we have a clinical quality review process in place to ensure they receive the care they need.
We appreciate the hundreds of Kaiser Permanente mental health professionals who choose to come to work for their patients. More than 30% of our dedicated clinicians have been caring for members throughout this strike, with more returning each day. In addition, our Kaiser Permanente psychiatrists, clinical managers, and other licensed clinicians have stepped in to meet with people needing care. We are also grateful to the hundreds of community-based mental health providers who opened their schedules further to accommodate more of our patients and look forward to a continued relationship with them as the strike evolves.
Together, these compassionate professionals have helped ensure we have trusted, professional resources available and have not had to cancel any appointment without extending options for alternative care.
This strike and this disruption to patient care does not need to happen. While NUHW claims it is fighting for increased access to care, its primary demand is for union members to spend less time seeing patients. Our patients cannot afford a proposal that significantly reduces the time available to care for them and their mental health needs. We were very close to an agreement the week of August 8; unfortunately, union leaders were intent on this strike.
We encourage the union to return to the table as we remain committed to reaching a fair and equitable agreement that is good for our clinicians and our patients.