Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside healthcare workers picketing over staffing

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 10:18 PM PST
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CLACKAMAS Ore. (KPTV) – Friday night, healthcare workers flooded the streets near Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center.

While they were not on strike, they were voicing their concerns about what the group called staffing shortages in the medical field.

Without the proper levels of staff, Nicole Brun-Cottan, an Acute and Physical Therapist, said, it’s harmful to both patients and workers alike.

“It’s not just the care that we can’t provide to the patients. It’s what is happening to us and to our colleagues and our friends.”

She described it as burnout due to impossible-to-achieve workloads, something the picketers said could be handled by more hands-on deck.

“We are asking for mistakes to be made and for people to not be able to do all that has been put in front of them,” Brun-Cottan said.

“We want to be there for you,” Joshua Holt, a staff nurse, added. “That’s why we’re out here today.”

Brun-Cottan offered concerning scenes she’s seen around medical facilities, “it should not be true that you feel bad for asking your nurse for a glass of water, because you see that your nurse is busy and totally unsupported.”

Many signs held by picketers asked drivers to honk in support of medical staff, where Brun-Cotton hoped each honk acted to raise awareness to the staffing shortages she said are critically low.

“To make understood to the community and to management that we are serious about the crisis and them doing things to address it.”

Holt said it’s a philosophy all picketers share, “they want to care for you and your families, and they want to do so safely so you can get back home to your family. Every single one of us is going to need healthcare at some point.”

People like Bill Magorian, who attended the picket because his wife has needed a hip replacement for more than a year, “until you’re in a situation where you need healthcare or you need to get into the hospital, or you need a surgery -- you’re not going to know what it’s like. It’s when it lands on your doorstep it’s a real wake up call.”

He explained his wife has been in excruciating pain on a daily basis, which he attributed to the lack of staff.

“That was even told to us at first,” he recalled. “They don’t have enough people for the operating room. That five-star rating to me is a joke,” he said referring to the Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center. “Maybe just in my anecdotal experience with my wife and what I’d say she was just kind of tossed to the curb.”

The group says many who work in the field are in it to provide proper care to the community but are left unable to do so with all that’s on their plate.

“If you make it impossible for them to ever win at that on the job,” Brun-Cottan said, “they leave. That’s what we’re seeing.”

Kaiser Permanente released a statement addressing the picketer’s concerns: