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Kaiser Therapists Say Patient Neglect Compels Them to Strike

Her patients are waiting months for therapy. ‘This strike is not about money,’ says Sacramento therapist Jane Kostka.




“We need to see our patients at a frequency that helps our patients actually get better,” says Jane Kostka, a Sacramento psychiatric social worker who is one of more than 2,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health care workers in Northern California who began an open-ended strike on Monday, Aug. 15. The workers, members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, say that understaffing at Kaiser is so severe that it makes it impossible to properly care for patients. Among their claims: 

  • Short-staffing means patients must wait four to eight weeks to see a therapist.
  • Therapists are leaving Kaiser in great numbers due to the overload of cases, compounding the shortage.
  • Their main demand is that Kaiser increase staffing to shorten patient wait times.

Kaiser told Capital & Main in a statement that it is “committed to bargaining in good faith to reach a fair and equitable agreement that is good for our therapists and our patients.” 

Kostka told Capital & Main that she is striking because she believes Kaiser’s dearth of therapy appointments is unbearable for both patients and practitioners — and violates state law. As the strike continues, Kostka will explain why the level of care provided by Kaiser must be increased. In this first installment, Kostka emphasized, “This strike is not about money.”

(Disclosure: NUHW is a financial supporter of this website.)

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