Nurses at 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California and the Central Valley -- including the San Rafael Medical Center -- plan to hold a one-day picket today in protest of what they allege is inadequate nurse staffing and patient care.
The picketing by the California Nurses Association, which represents about 17,000 nurses at Kaiser hospitals, is set to take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The nurses' union alleges that low staffing has become a chronic problem in some Kaiser emergency rooms and other hospital areas.
"It breaks my heart to see patients having to wait too long to receive care, or are not able to access care because of the high co-payments that Kaiser is charging for them," nurse practitioner Lauri Hoagland said.
Kaiser Permanente released a statement saying the hospitals will operate normally during the picketing, and that the union's claims "have little to do with facts."
The statement by Gay Westfall, senior vice president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan Northern California, said Kaiser's nurse staffing levels "comply with, and sometimes exceed, state-mandated staffing requirements at our hospitals."
Westfall said hospital officials have limited flexibility to realign staff under their current agreement with the union, so "we have a surplus of hospital RNs every day at certain medical centers and departments throughout the region -- and a need to supplement staffing in others."
Westfall said, "If CNA is willing to bargain earnestly with us, and with flexibility on our nurses' part, we believe we will be able to have a position for every nurse who wants one."
The hospitals where the pickets will take place include six sites in the East Bay, three in San Francisco and along the Peninsula, four in the North Bay and two in the South Bay.
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Picketing will occur on Dec. 19, from 2-6 p.m., at the following locations:
San Francisco Medical Center, 2425 Geary Blvd.
South San Francisco Medical Center, 1200 El Camino Real
Redwood City Medical Center, 1150 Veterans Blvd.
San Jose Medical Center, 250 Hospital Parkway
Santa Clara Medical Center, 700 Lawrence Expressway
Roseville Medical Center, 1600 Eureka Rd.
Sacramento Medical Center, 2025 Morse Ave.
South Sacramento Med Center, 6600 Bruceville Rd.
Antioch Medical Center, 4501 Sand Creek Rd.
Fremont Medical Center, 39400 Paseo Padre Parkway
Hayward Medical Center, 27400 Hesperian Blvd.
Oakland Medical Center, 280 W MacArthur Blvd.
Richmond Medical Center, 901 Nevin Ave.
Walnut Creek Medical Center, 1425 South Main St.
North Bay/Solano County
Santa Rosa Medical Center, 401 Bicentennial Way
San Rafael Medical Center, 99 Montecillo Rd.
Vacaville Medical Center, 1 Quality Dr.
Vallejo Medical Center, 975 Sereno Dr.
Fresno Medical Center, 7300 North Fresno St.
Manteca Medical Center, 1777 W Yosemite Ave.
Modesto Medical Center, 4601 Dale Rd.