Bay Area Kaiser nurses picket over patient home care program, but it's not a strike

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Kaiser nurses held an informational picket at medical centers across the Bay Area Wednesday. They are protesting a program Kaiser calls Medically Home, which provides care for a patient in their home rather than in the hospital.

"It's very upsetting and disturbing. We know as nurses these patients are safer with us than at home," nurse Jill Leon said outside of the Kaiser Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

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"They are doing this to save money. They can send this out to contract agencies, use non-union labor and have someone stopping by for an hour," nurse Amy Scott-Slovick said.

Kaiser officials would not answer questions on camera about the nurses' concerns.



Instead, the hospital released this statement:

"Nurses have always and will continue to play a critically important and highly valued role in the care team. There are no plans to limit the role of nurses in hospitals any acute care-at-home programs at Kaiser Permanente. Nurses will continue to work in brick-and-mortar hospitals and medical office buildings, caring for patients and responding to their needs.

Kaiser Permanente's implementation of the Medically Home care delivery platform is an innovative program rooted in quality and safety that provides acute-level care where people live and where they overwhelmingly prefer to receive care when given the option. The program is not focused on cost-savings; it empowers technology-enabled, multidisciplinary care teams, which include nurses, to provide the right care at the right time and in the right location to best meet patients' needs. Patients enrolled in the program must meet established clinical and safety criteria and will always have the choice to receive care in the hospital if the home environment ultimately is not preferred or appropriate."

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But nurses think it's a bad idea and will place the burden of care on a patient's family member at home..

"Conditions can change and family members don't understand the conditions, such as sepsis - there are many signs we look for. Kaiser members pay a healthy premium. They are entitled to receive the care that they need. Not at home for family members to do this," Leon said.

These employees aren't the only ones disappointed in Kaiser right now. Kaiser engineers are currently on strike and pharmacists are planning a strike for next week. Kaiser officials are encouraging patients to get their prescriptions filled before that strike, which is set to start on Monday.

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