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Mental health workers strike in California

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Kaiser Permanente mental health workers came out on a strike throughout California on Monday to voice their concerns over patient safety and care.

The health professionals launched their week-long strike to protest a lack of staffing which has serious effects on care.

A number of 2,600 psychologists, therapists and social workers demanded that the healthcare provider offer timely, quality mental healthcare at its psychiatry departments and clinics.

The mental health workers wearing red T-shirts and holding signs that read “Fair Wages Now” and “Social Workers for Quality Care,” were marching outside several Kaiser medical centers throughout California.

They say that Kaiser Permanente has added new patients through the Affordable Care Act without adding any psychiatric resources.

“Kaiser has taken on hundreds of thousands of new patients. In the meantime, they have not kept up with this growth in membership by hiring more of us to take care of the mental health needs of the members of Kaiser Permanente,” Steve Ode from the National Union of Healthcare Workers said.

Another union member, Jim Clifford, says that Kaiser claims to “be the leader in healthcare,” but it discriminates against “the mentally ill.”

According to the union, some patients must wait up to two months in order for follow-up appointments to be made and this prolongs the recovery process.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents the mental health professionals, has not been able to reach a contract agreement with Kaiser since the union was founded five years ago.

The protest will affect all 86 hospitals and clinics which operate under the supervision of Kaiser Permanente.

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