Monday, December 5, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Monday, August 29, 2022
Mental Health Workers Strike Kaiser Beginning Monday
By News Release @ 12:13 AM :: 873 Views :: Health Care, Labor

Mental health therapists at Kaiser Permanente in Hawai’i will begin striking at 6 a.m. TODAY

The open-ended strike is a last resort by therapists who have fought for years to make Kaiser fix a mental health system so broken that patients wait months for care

Picket lines will rotate with clinicians picketing in Oahu on Today, Tuesday and Friday; Maui on Wednesday, and the Big Island on Thursday

News Release from NUHW, August 29, 2022

The 57 mental health professionals will spend their first day on the picket lines from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday outside Kaiser Honolulu Medical Office, 1010 Pensacola Honolulu.

Click here for a list of picket times and locations for the remainder of the week and here for a Fact Sheet about the strike.

The understaffing of Kaiser’s mental health clinics in Hawai’i is even more severe than in Northern California where more than 2,000 Kaiser therapists, also represented by NUHW, are entering the third week of an open-ended strike. 

In Hawai’i, clinicians joined NUHW four years ago to advocate for better access to mental health care, but wait times have only grown longer, as frustrated therapists leave faster than Kaiser can hire new ones. 

While Kaiser, which reported an $8.1 billion profit last year, has boasted to state regulators that it's gearing up for a hiring spree, it has singled out its mental health clinicians for wage freezes and retirement benefit cuts that would make it harder for Kaiser to hire new therapists and keep the ones it still has. Kaiser has offered raises without takeaways to all of its other unionized workers in Hawai’i.

“Kaiser couldn’t be more hypocritical when it comes to mental health care,” said Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents Kaiser mental health clinicians in both California and Hawaii. “When it gets in trouble for violating mental health access standards, it pledges to boost staffing, but then it turns around and demands cuts that will make its clinics more understaffed than ever.” 

Kaiser’s accreditation status downgraded

As the Star-Advertiser reported, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently downgraded Kaiser’s accreditation status in Hawaii by placing it under “corrective action” due to its violation of national standards for providing access to mental health care. 

Responding to a complaint filed by NUHW, investigators with the accreditation agency interviewed Kaiser therapists and concluded that the lack of access to mental health care posed “a potential patient safety risk” and that “Kaiser’s prior efforts to improve access… have largely been ineffective.” Currently, Kaiser is the only health plan in Hawai’i under corrective action. 

Understaffing crisis worsening

In addition to challenging Kaiser’s accreditation to make the HMO address its mental understaffing crisis, clinicians held a three-day strike in May and filed a 57-page complaint last November with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The complaint, citing internal Kaiser records, documented that patients with severe mental health conditions were waiting months for initial therapy sessions in clear violation of clinical standards and that only 28 percent of Kaiser’s out-of-network mental health providers were actually accepting new Kaiser patients.

Rather than challenge the complaint’s findings, Kaiser issued a 7-page written response last December deflecting responsibility for its violations claiming that it’s hamstrung by a shortage of behavioral health care workers in Hawaii. Although Kaiser told state officials in writing that it planned to hire 44 more clinicians, the number of full-time Kaiser workers providing direct mental health therapy in Hawaii has decreased since November this year from 51 to 48, and many clinicians report that their schedules are now completely booked well into October.

“People’s lives are at stake,” said Andrea Kumura, a licensed clinical social worker at Kaiser's Waipio Medical Office. “Kaiser is making us violate our professional ethics by delivering care that doesn’t meet the needs of our patients, and the proposal that Kaiser has on the table would result in people waiting even longer for care.”

PDF: NUHW request that the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs take immediate action to address Kaiser Foundation Health Plan’s (Kaiser) violations of state law.

  *   *   *   *   *

Mental health clinicians to strike Kaiser Permanente facilities across Hawai’i beginning 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 29

Clinicians will strike for as long as it takes to make Kaiser address an understaffing crisis that leaves patients waiting months for therapy sessions.

Hawai’i strike comes as 2,000+ therapists in Northern California enter third week of an open-ended strike to make Kaiser improve access to mental health care. 

News Release from National Union of Healthcare Workers

HONOLULU — Confronting an understaffing crisis that forces patients to wait months for therapy sessions, Mental health therapists at Kaiser Permanente clinics in Hawai’i will begin an open-ended strike Monday, Aug. 29 to demand that the healthcare giant address access-to-care issues that Kaiser’s own accreditation agency wrote “poses a potential patient safety risk.”

The 57 psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, medical social workers, case manager nurses and chemical dependency counselors provide services for 266,000 Kaiser members at seven medical facilities and a call center on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. 

They will rotate picket line locations the first week of strike as follows:

Monday, Aug. 29

Oahu: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kaiser Honolulu Medical Office, 1010 Pensacola Honolulu

Tuesday, Aug. 30

Oahu: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Moanalua Medical Center, 3288 Moanalua Road, Honolulu

Wednesday, Aug. 31

Maui: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kaiser Maui Lani Medical Office, 55 Maui Lani Pkwy., Wailuku

Thursday, Sept. 1

Big Island: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kaiser Hilo Clinic, 1292 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo 

Friday, Sept. 2

Oahu: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Kaiser Waipio Medical Office, 94-1480 Moaniani St, Waipahu

The understaffing of Kaiser’s mental health clinics in Hawai’i is even more severe than in Northern California where more than 2,000 Kaiser therapists, also represented by NUHW, are poised to enter the third week of an open-ended strike. 

In Hawai’i, clinicians joined NUHW four years ago to advocate for better access to mental health care, but wait times have only grown longer, as frustrated therapists leave faster than Kaiser can hire new ones. While Kaiser, which reported an $8.1 billion profit last year, has boasted to state regulators that it's gearing up for a hiring spree, it’s demanding that clinicians agree to wage freezes and the elimination of pensions for new hires that would make it harder for Kaiser to hire new therapists and keep the ones it still has.

“We’re going on strike for our patients,” said Rachel Kaya, a psychologist at Kaiser’s Maui Lani clinic.. “All we’re asking from Kaiser is to give us the resources to help our patients get better, and all we get from Kaiser is lip service. If Kaiser was serious about growing its mental health workforce, it wouldn’t be singling us out for cuts that it has never asked of any other union in Hawaii.” 

In May, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) downgraded Kaiser’s accreditation status in Hawaii by placing it under “corrective action” due to its violation of national standards for providing access to mental health care. Responding to a complaint filed by NUHW, investigators with the accreditation agency interviewed Kaiser therapists and concluded that the lack of access to mental health care posed “a potential patient safety risk” and that “Kaiser’s prior efforts to improve access… have largely been ineffective.” Currently, Kaiser is the only health plan in Hawai’i under corrective action. 

In addition to challenging Kaiser’s accreditation to make the HMO address its mental understaffing crisis, clinicians held a three-day strike in May and filed a 57-page complaint last November with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The complaint, citing internal Kaiser records, documented that patients with severe mental health conditions were waiting months for initial therapy sessions in clear violation of clinical standards and that only 28 percent of Kaiser’s out-of-network mental health providers were actually accepting new Kaiser patients.

Rather than challenge the complaint’s findings, Kaiser issued a 7-page written response last December deflecting responsibility for its violations claiming that it’s hamstrung by a shortage of behavioral health care workers in Hawaii. Although Kaiser told state officials in writing that it planned to hire 44 more clinicians, the number of full-time Kaiser workers providing direct mental health therapy in Hawaii has decreased since November this year from 51 to 48, and many clinicians report that their schedules are now completely booked well into October.

“It’s never been harder for Kaiser patients to access mental health care, and Kaiser’s proposals at the bargaining table would make things even worse,” said Darah Wallsten, a clinical psychologist at Kaiser’s Hilo Clinic. “The only choice we have at this point is to strike for as long as it takes to make Kaiser meet the needs of our patients and stop understaffing our clinics.”

###

The National Union of Healthcare Workers represents more than 16,000 healthcare workers in California and Hawaii, including 57 Kaiser mental health providers who provide treatment to 266,000 Kaiser enrollees at seven medical facilities and a call center on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.

KITV: Mental healthcare workers protest - indefinitely

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT