Posts Tagged ‘Kaiser Permanente’


Self-Care Nurses Threatened with Termination

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

At the time of this writing, in the U.S. we are several weeks into the COVID-19 crisis. The infected Grand Princess cruise ship passengers disembarked in Oakland, CA and were taken to Kaiser hospital there for treatment.

Kaiser Permanente is California’s largest HMO. It is a tripartite system of “socialized medicine.” It owns its hospitals and all ancillary services. It owns its own physician group that serves Kaiser patients exclusively. And it is an insurance company that serves only one network – Kaiser. It is known for its cost-cutting initiatives.

Anyone aware of ongoing circumstances knows well the tale of protective gear shortages in the U.S.

N95 Respirators, also in short supply, are protective devices designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. According to the FDA, the ‘N95’ designation means that the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks.

The Trump Administration, led by an unscientific narcissist, in light of the shortages, has had the Center for Disease Control (the CDC) weaken its directives regarding difficult-to-find protective equipment for health care providers, including nurses. That is, the CDC issued instructions on how to reuse eyewear and masks, intended for single use, then disposal.

Reuse of masks, not N95 respirators, involves washing and sanitizing. With an ample supply, reuse would be considered unsanitary. These half-measures put the front-line providers at risk. However, during this crisis and bungled production, stockpiling, hoarding and failure to distribute, the industry has had to rely on inferior measures and the well intentioned production of masks by volunteers and clothing designers (kudos to Christian Siriano).

According to reporting by Akela Lacy in The Intercept, Kaiser, the employer adopted the CDC instruction to reuse protective masks dictated by shortages while ignoring the science of protection. Both patients and providers face greater danger of transmission with this protocol.

Nurses lucky enough to own their own N95 respirators are better able to protect themselves while treating patients with the virus. They are able to mitigate some of the risk themselves.

Inexplicably, Kaiser threatened to terminate nurses not following the weak and less safe CDC mask reuse policy if they dared to wear their superior personal N95 respirators! WTF! Further Kaiser only has gowns made with a permeable cloth that does not protect as traditional gowns do.

How ridiculous is the decision to terminate healthy nurses? Nurses will soon to be in short supply as they acquire the virus themselves and have to take time away from work. So, the mighty corporation decides to fire them for “insubordination.”

Kaiser deserves national shame along with the feckless federal government and its inane, responsibility-dodging, “response” to this life-threatening crisis.

Kaiser nurses who are members of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United are protesting. Here is their protest flyer.

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