Health

Kaiser says 4-day nurse walkout won't disrupt patient care

FILE PHOTO: Nurses picket during their one-week strike against Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center in March 2016.
FILE PHOTO: Nurses picket during their one-week strike against Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center in March 2016.
California Nurses Association

Hundreds of registered nurses began a four-day strike at Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center Thursday, the second short-term walkout in three months. The HMO says it has hired enough replacement nurses to ensure normal operations throughout the job action.

Kaiser has lined up more than 500 traveling and replacement nurses to fill in, said Kaiser spokeswoman Socorro Serrano.

"During the strike, we will be fully staffed with 225-250 registered nurses on each shift," the number typically on duty, she said, adding that there is no need for patients to reschedule appointments or procedures.

The California Nurses Association, which represents the RN's at the facility, says there are about 1,300 registered nurses working there. Kaiser says there are about 1,200.

The union says the RNs are striking because the hospital is not adequately staffed to fulfill its role as a tertiary care center, and its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is so short-staffed that "many nurses frequently are not able to take their breaks," according to a union statement. 

Kaiser counters that "this strike is not about quality or adequate staffing levels," asserting in a statement that "our nursing staff ratios meet or exceed state guidelines."

The HMO says the walkout is related to stalled contract negotiations, calling the work stoppage "a disappointing tactic to try to influence" the talks.

The RNs at the L.A. Medical Center voted in July 2015 to have the California Nurses Association represent them. The two sides began negotiations over a contract last fall, but they are at an impasse. That led to a one-week strike in March.