OAKLAND, California – Filipinos joined about 300 nurses and union representatives who gathered in front of the California Nurses Association building last week to accuse their employer Kaiser Permanente of dismissing the importance of patient care.
They said this is alarming because Kaiser is the largest health insurer and hospital system in California.
"We were supposed to have bargaining but our employer failed to show up so we went to them instead. So we rallied over at their office and let them know that we were there and what are purpose was to be there," Mike Beshears, a 21-year nurse at Kaiser L.A.M.C.
The nurses say that despite the $1.1 billion increase in Kaiser profits for the first quarter of 2014, the company still allows chronic understaffing and continues to cut patient services.
Those cuts include hospital admission restrictions, holding patients in “observation” for over 72 hours, and prematurely sending patients from Kaiser Hospitals to others settings that include homes where the burden of providing care falls on the families.
Even nurses from southern California made the trip up north to join the efforts in protecting their patients.
“We came up here to support our nurses up north because we are all one company and we are all here for the care of our patients,” said Beshears. “We want everyone to know we are united on this. We want our patients to get the care they deserve and that they paid for.”
“We as nurses are the voice of our patients,” said Tessie Costales, a 28-year nurse of Kaiser L.A.M.C. “So being their voice, we want better care for them and Kaiser is starting to cut back on all the services. So as a nurse we are the voice of our patient and we want to be heard.”
Many Pinoy nurses here say they take their profession seriously and it means being the best nurses they can be.
“A lot of the nurses were sent here by their parents and have sacrifice so much to sell everything they have to send their children to school to be nurses to be here to better their lives,” said Marilu Ramirez, a nurse on the 2014 bargaining team.
Balitang America has reached out to Kaiser to respond to these allegations.
In an email, Kaiser says the reason why they didn’t meet with the nurses is because they did not agree on a neutral location.
Kaiser also says it is ready to come to the bargaining table with the nurses and it is confident that both parties will have a meaningful dialogue.
But for now these protesters have a clear message for Kaiser.
“I want you to obey what the nurses are saying,” said Ramirez. “We are for our patients and that is the best, best way we can do this. If you follow what’s in your heart, not the pocket, but what’s in your heart it’s always patients first.”
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