By Renée Saldaña, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW)
Starting the week of April 10, healthcare workers at medical facilities across California, including Walnut Creek and Antioch, will hold events to speak out against the dangers of short staffing and the effects on patients and caregivers.
On Tuesday, a protest will be held at Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek from 11 am to 1 pm and on Wednesday, another protest will be held at Kaiser Permanent on Sand Creek Road in Antioch, also from 11 am to 1 pm.
“After years of understaffing and dealing with the pandemic, we are stretched thin and burnt out. Healthcare workers are leaving the field, and those of us who have stayed are doing the work of two or three people. We can’t give our patients the care they deserve without enough staff,” said Datosha Williams, a service representative at Kaiser Permanente. “We are calling on Kaiser to do what it takes to hire more caregivers so that we can deliver the best care possible for our patients.”
After three years of the COVID pandemic and chronic understaffing, healthcare workers are calling on management to provide safe staffing levels and additional support. Caregivers say that short-staffed hospitals can lead to long wait times, mistaken diagnoses, and neglect, making it harder to give patients quality care.
Even before the pandemic, California faced a massive shortage of allied healthcare workers to care for its aging population — as many as 65,000 workers annually, according to conservative estimates. The stress and the toil of fighting the pandemic has led many to leave the industry, creating a full-blown healthcare staffing and patient care crisis.
A survey of over 30,000 SEIU-UHW members, Crisis in Care, highlighted the short-staffing crisis in California, with 83% of responding healthcare workers saying their facility is understaffed. At the same time, healthcare corporations are reporting record profits.