Union’s TV commercial in DC accuses Kaiser Permanente of delaying, denying mental healthcare

The National Union of Healthcare Workers has released a cable TV commercial accusing Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente of delaying and denying mental healthcare.

The commercial, airing in the District of Columbia market, where Kaiser has multiple facilities, including Capitol Hill Medical Center, claims patients wait weeks or months for mental health appointments.

"The public needs to know that Kaiser patients across the country can’t get the mental healthcare they are paying for and legally entitled to receive," said Sal Rosselli, president of the union representing nearly 4,000 Kaiser psychologists, therapists, social workers and psychiatric nurses."It's time for Kaiser to finally make mental healthcare a top priority — not the centerpiece of a public relations campaign that doesn’t improve patient care."

The commercial comes months after Kaiser mental health clinicians ended a five-day strike to call attention to the issue and demand better care access. Union leaders claim Kaiser executives have rejected their proposals and refused to increase its ratio of one full-time mental health clinician for every 3,000 patients.

John Nelson, vice president of communications for Kaiser Permanente, described the union's commercial as "the latest tactic in a cynical, ongoing campaign by the leaders of NUHW to try to distract from their bargaining demands, which would reduce the availability of mental healthcare for our patients."

Mr. Nelson told Becker’s, "We have been in contract bargaining with NUHW since last summer.  In contrast to the union’s demands, Kaiser Permanente's proposals will increase the amount of time therapists have to see their patients, and we offer raises that will keep them the highest paid in California."

 

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