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Kaiser Permanente and its Union Coalition Out Front on Improving Nurse-to-Patient Staffing Ratios.

News Editors/Health & Medical Writers

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 19, 2002

On the day of hearings to consider state mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, Kaiser Permanente and its partner unions are reporting significant progress toward hiring the additional nurses needed to implement the nurse-to-patient ratios endorsed by the partner unions. Kaiser Permanente is the only healthcare organization to voluntarily adopt nurse staff ratios in California.

Kaiser Permanente and its labor partners, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Nurses Associations of California (UNAC) have taken the lead in attracting nurses by adopting first-in-industry practices and creating the most nurse-friendly working environment in California.

In the first nine months of 2002, Kaiser Permanente hired more than 2,900 nurses, an increase of 49 percent over the same period in 2001. Kaiser Permanente has also reduced the number of new RNs choosing to leave by 10 percent. As a result of this increased recruitment and retention, nearly 1600 new nurses have been added to the ranks at Kaiser Permanente this year.

"We are moving forward aggressively to improve nurse-staffing ratios in our hospitals to improve patient care and to improve working conditions for our nurses," said Mary Ann Thode, President of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region.

Kaiser Permanente, working in partnership with its union employees is implementing a nurse-patient ratio of 1 to 4 in the medical/surgical areas of its hospitals. The current DHS proposal sets the ratio, initially as 1 nurse to 6 patients, and then 1 to 5 within 12 months. "Our nurses believe Kaiser Permanente is doing the right thing and we encourage the rest of the industry to also adopt the 1 to 4 ratio. The new staffing ratios help nurses to do what they do best -- provide the caring touch that makes a difference for patients," said Kathy Sackman, R.N., President of UNAC, AFSCME.

"Kaiser Permanente is making history by adopting and moving forward with our proposal," Rhonda Goode, staff nurse at Kaiser's Los Angeles Medical Center and SEIU Nurse Alliance leader, said. "Never before has a large hospital employer taken a stand for higher nurse staffing ratios for all patients."

Kaiser Permanente and its unions established a labor-management partnership in 1997 to improve patient care and working conditions for employees. "Through this partnership, we have given top priority to listening to the people who deliver care on the nursing floor," said Thode. "These ratios, and our aggressive efforts to address the current nursing shortage, will allow Kaiser Permanente and our union partners to create an environment that will encourage nurses to come back to the bedside."
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 19, 2002
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