Citing low wages and less than ideal working conditions, thousands of nurses and other health care workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals will go on strike on November 15 — directly affecting prescription refill services at Kaiser outpatient pharmacies in Northern California.
It was announced last month that upwards of 24,000 Kaiser Permanente employees planned to go on strike in November after it was overwhelmingly voted in favor of the unionized action. The week-long strike, which will begin on November 15 and end on November 22, will also have a severe impact on Kaiser Permanente's outpatient pharmacies in NorCal, health care system officials announced on Friday.
Have your prescriptions delivered to your home address by simply requesting refill through KP Mobile App or by signing onto https://t.co/LUnK2zplK9 pic.twitter.com/3egBKEw3F8— Kaiser Permanente (@KPMemberService) November 4, 2021
According to the Chronicle, representatives of Guild for Professional Pharmacists — the labor union representing most of those who plan on going on strike later this month — has issued a warning notice to Kaiser officials about the looming strike, and how it might impact a patient's ability to fill their prescription drugs. Those notified Kaiser officials have since urged people who use their pharmacy services to refill their prescriptions before the strike begins; patients unable to do so or are yet in need of refilling their medications are being recommended to use Kaiser's free mail-order delivery service to “to avoid refill delays''—which could cost someone their life.
However, it appears that Kaiser Permanente's hospitals and emergency departments won't be as affected and will remain open, per usual, despite an expected short-staffing problem.
“Our hospitals and emergency departments will remain open, and we have contingency plans in place to ensure you will continue to receive high-quality health care and other services during a work stoppage,” Kaiser officials said in a statement acquired by the newspaper.
Kaiser earlier this week said it hopes to reach an agreement with them to avoid a strike; Kaiser has also mentioned that should the strike continue as planned, there will still be on-site physicians and managers on hand to care for patients.
And what are those wants, exactly? 4% raises for each of the next three years, as well as a direct commitment to employ more nurses to relieve staffing shortages and alleviate medical staff burnout among employees — the latter issue ballooning over the pandemic, causing a wave of mental health problems among physicians. At the moment, Kaiser has only offered 1% a year in salary raises, with additional lump sums to be given out throughout the year, and says it still needs to reduce labor costs to remain competitive.
Because that’s exactly what we should want in our country’s private healthcare system: a financial competition that infringes on a person’s ability to keep another human being alive. (Insert an abundant amount of sarcasm, here.)
For information on Kaiser Permanente's pharmacy services in SF, as well as about home delivery, visit thrive.kaiserpermanente.org.
Related: Kaiser Suspends 2,200 Unvaccinated Employees
Photo: Getty Images/Smith Collection/Gado/Contributor