Stanford nurses strike over staff shortages and lack of mental health support

“Nobody wants to go on strike,” intensive care cardiac nurse Kimberley Reed told KQED. “Because it’s not good for hospitals. It’s not good for nurses. It’s not good for our patients.”

But Reed said she will be at the bargaining table to fight for better pension benefits and to make sure patients get the best care — and part of that, she said, is ensure that nurses also receive the mental health care they need.

“A lot of [workers] pay out of pocket for mental health services,” she said. “And I think with the death of Michael Odell…it did something for a lot of people.” Odell was a 27-year-old traveling nurse who worked at Stanford Health Care in January when he died of an apparent suicide.

“We brought these [mental health] even before the tragic death of one of our colleagues,” Fred Taleghani, a nurse at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and member of the union’s bargaining team, told KQED before the strike began.

Hospitals’ existing employee assistance program, Taleghani said, “was gaining momentum [of] four to six weeks to even get an appointment with a therapist. And [for] anyone going through a mental health crisis, you need help right away. In a month, in a month and a half, it doesn’t work.”

Taleghani said the union is asking for creative workarounds to get hospitals to improve mental health care options for workers.

“We are asking for $1,750 which [a] A nurse can reimburse up to 80% of their outside mental health expenses,” he said. “Mental health is a really personal issue, and you have to have a therapist that you connect with – and a randomly assigned therapist at a big company. .. just isn’t feasible.”

Hospitals consider cutting benefits for strikers

Stanford Health and Packard Children’s announced earlier this month that they would cut health care benefits for striking workers beginning May 1. to those who are actively working.

“This standard practice is not unique to our hospitals and applies to all of our employees who are not working, on unpaid status and not on approved leave,” they said.

State lawmakers representing parts of the peninsula have asked Stanford to resolve the contract dispute.

In a joint letter Friday to Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle and Packard Children President and CEO Paul King, Assembly Members Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) and State Sen. Josh Becker (D-San Mateo) called it “unconscionable” for the two hospitals to cut health care benefits for striking workers and suggested that c was a tactic to break the picket line.

Lawmakers and CRONA also noted that Stanford Health Care and Packard Children’s received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for pandemic relief — Stanford Health Care’s fiscal year-end 2021 financial disclosure said. that the revenues of the two hospitals increased by 16% to a total of 8.3 billion dollars.

“Cutting health care for these frontline health care workers and their families after they got us through a pandemic isn’t just unnecessary — it’s cruel and out of step with the values ​​that Stanford and Packard publicly announce,” Kalra, Berman and Becker said. mentioned. “Having received generous federal funding over the past two years, Stanford and Packard Healthcare shouldn’t be playing games with nurses’ healthcare benefits.”

CRONA has not yet announced an end date for the strike and plans to continue negotiations with Stanford Health executives.

Leave a Comment