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Kaiser Permanente nurses stage one-day walkout over working conditions

May 18, 2011 | 11:39 am

For the second time in two months, Kaiser Permanente nurses have walked off the job at the HMO’s Los Angeles headquarters to protest working conditions they say compromise patient safety.

About 1,100 nurses are staging the one-day action Wednesday outside Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard to protest staffing ratios they call inadequate.

“We’re the people with the hands-on contact with patients, who actually know what they require,” said veteran nurse Lise Geller. “We want to deliver something much better than average care.”  

The nurses have been joined in the walkout by 1,400 other Kaiser employees, including social workers and psychologists from offices around Southern California. They complain about patients facing lengthy delays for their services.

Both groups also are fighting what they say are proposed cuts to workers’ healthcare and retirement benefits.

The head of the medical center defended Kaiser’s staffing ratios, saying they exceed standards set by the state. Executive director Mark Costa said the hospital was relying on nursing managers and nurses hired from outside to cover for those who have walked out.

“The process for staffing each of our nursing units is done with a very specific discipline each and every shift,” Costa said of the hospital’s practices. “We have the necessary resources.”

Costa said the Kaiser system had canceled most appointments Wednesday for services with dieticians, psychologists and social workers at facilities around Southern California.

-- Duke Helfand