OAKHURST – A recent walkout by members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) hit home in Oakhurst, where one local professional employed by Kaiser Permanente stayed away from work for one day at the bequest of her labor union.
“My heart is in that clinic, where I have taken care of generations of families.” says Marcia Norred, R.N., a long-time nurse at Kaiser Medical Offices in Oakhurst, who was on strike this week.
CNA urged its members to walkout on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 11 and 12, asking them to stay away from their jobs at 86 Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics across California, including a hospital in Fresno and the clinic in Oakhurst.
“I am supporting this strike because we need better staffing,” Norred explains. “Originally when I started there were two RNs. We have one full time position now doing what a minimum of two full time people should be doing. Oakhurst Kaiser was designed for and needs an RN on staff every day, five days a week. To efficiently function on a daily basis we need a minimum of one RN and one LVN daily.”
She currently works half-time at 20 hours per week. Kaiser in Oakhurst also employs an on-call LVN who took over for Norred this week, and belongs to a different union. Norred feels the current staffing is especially hard on local oncology patients who must travel to Fresno and back because there’s no full-time RN.
“We do not have in my opinion the staff that we should have to provide the care that we would like to give our patients. We don’t want to lose any more positions. We need positions filled that have been taken away from us in order to continue to provide the care we’ve always given.”
Norred is quick to point out that the Oakhurst Kaiser clinic consistently ranks at the top of patient satisfaction surveys, and she wants it to stay that way.
“We have a great community, and we have the best staff in the whole world at our small community clinic. When we’re slammed everybody pulls together to try to take care of the patient.”
Norred refers to a recent San Francisco Business Times article stating record profits for the Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente nonprofit healthcare system amidst increased enrollment. She says that while the company’s profits soar, Kaiser is cutting staffing and telling nurses they can’t justify the position and believes this translates to “folks having to wait and not having a nurse available when they need one.”
Kaiser Permanente in Fresno responded to the Union action by saying they were disappointed with the call for a walkout.
“We believe, and our nurses know, that Kaiser Permanente is one of the best-staffed health care systems in California and the nation. Our nurse staffing always meets, and often exceeds, state-required levels. We need our nurses, who are at the heart of how we provide our high-quality and compassionate care, where they are needed most every day: at our patients’ side.”