18K California Nurses Have Decided to Go on Strike

Nurses union says Kaiser Permanente hospitals unprepared for Ebola
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2014 8:18 AM CST
18K California Nurses Have Decided to Go on Strike
Nurses protest along Las Vegas Boulevard on Sept. 24, 2014, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

Kaiser Permanente hospitals aren't ready for Ebola, say its nurses, and tomorrow 18,000 of them are set to begin a two-day strike over that and other issues. Their union claims Kaiser has "refused to address [their] concerns … about Ebola safety protocols and protective equipment, refusing even to answer questions by the RNs." The walkout will affect 21 of Kaiser's hospitals and 65 clinics in Northern California, reports Bloomberg. Another 800 nurses at two non-Kaiser hospitals in California and 400 at one in Washington are planning strikes, and National Nurses United will hold a "day of actions" in 16 states Wednesday. NNU says 85% of nurses feel unprepared for Ebola, their fears rooted in how Ebola patient Thomas Duncan was cared for in Texas last month, reports Medical Daily.

The union, whose contract expired in April, says negotiations have stalled over one issue— patient care—and Ebola is part of that. But Kaiser insists that staff have been trained and they are following CDC recommendations, blaming union leadership for its lack of preparedness, Bloomberg adds. "We have repeatedly asked [them] to work with us on our Ebola strategy. They have refused," says a Kaiser spokesman. Meanwhile, Kaiser plans to run its hospitals without the 18,000 RNs—the ER, pharmacy, and labs will be open, but some appointments may be canceled, the San Francisco Chronicle adds. (In Maine, the nurse whose Ebola incubation period caused such controversy is set to leave town.)

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