Hundreds of registered nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center began a four-day strike Thursday -- the second walkout at the hospital in three months.
Officials with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United union contend the walkout is part of a push for increased staffing levels to improve patient care, but Kaiser officials denied that claim, saying nursing staff ratios at the hospital "meet or exceed state guidelines."
"This strike is not about quality or adequate staffing levels," according to Kaiser. "The quality of care our teams at LAMC provide has never been higher. In fact, in 2015 LAMC was named one of the Top 10 Best Hospitals in California by U.S. News and World Report and one of only 34 hospitals nationwide to be rated as `high performing' in all five common inpatient procedures."
According to Kaiser, union leaders "are calling upon nurses to walk away from their patients." Hospital officials said it is "entirely inappropriate to attempt to disrupt patient care or service as a bargaining tactic."
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Union officials insisted, however, that they are pushing for a contract that will "improve staffing to protect patient care" along with improved salary levels to bolster recruitment and retention of nurses.
"This hospital is not just a place I work. The patients and my fellow nurses are my community," registered nurse Irma Dufelmeir told City News Service. "I am very disappointed that Kaiser refuses to invest in the nurses, so that our patients can get the care they need."
About 1,300 nurses are expected to take part in the strike, beginning at 7 a.m., according to the union, which said the walkout is centered on inadequate staffing in the Tertiary Care center, short staffing for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and lack of staffing to allow nurses to take rest and meal breaks.
No contract negotiations are scheduled, according to the union.
Hospital officials said the union represents about 1,200 of the 18,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses in Southern California.
"We have made very good offers to date, that will make our LAMC nurses among the highest-paid nurses in Southern California," according to Kaiser. "Unfortunately, the CNA bargaining team gave us no meaningful feedback about our most recent proposal, and made no counter-proposal to our wage offer. Rather, once again, they handed us a strike notice."