Kaiser Candlelight Vigil Honors Mental Health Patients Who Committed Suicide
About 40 people held a predawn candlelight vigil in front of Kaiser Permanente headquarters in Oakland early Wednesday morning. They were there to remember former patients who committed suicide after their requests for mental health care were denied or detrimentally delayed.
The group consisted of some of Kaiser’s mental health clinicians, National Union of Healthcare Workers representatives and family and friends of those who died too soon.
The vigil was a powerful sight but is just one of several actions clinicians and the supporting NUHW have recently taken to bring attention to the growing problem of mental health care denial at Kaiser facilities. Since the end of September, Clinicians have taken to streets in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles amid contentious contract negotiations between NUHW and the healthcare giant.
Clinicians say that although Kaiser attempts to staff up to meet the continually growing patient base, they just are not hiring and training people fast enough to mitigate high turnover and demand for services, creating a patient backlog.
Healthcare workers backed by NUHW are demanding additional hires of full-time clinicians to reduce patient wait times, crisis services established at each clinic and more time allotted to give each patient the care and referral they need. In September, Kaiser attempted to force workers into accepting a previously rejected contract offer by threatening a 3 percent pay loss. NUHW balked at what they called Kaiser’s “scare tacticts.”
If the two parties do not come to an agreement, the union workers plan to strike November 11-15.