On July 21, 2014, KQED’s California Report aired a segment on Kaiser’s lengthy wait times for mental health appointments. One therapist who specializes in geriatric care said she wrote to her supervisors to tell them, “I can’t tell a patient that has six months to live that I’ll see them in five months.”
To listen to the story, click here: “Kaiser Therapists, Patients Allege Long Waits for Mental Health Care.”
KQED has published the second of a two-part series on problems with Kaiser’s mental health services. The reporter, Jon Brooks, spoke to “some two dozen current and former Kaiser clinicians and mental health patients as well as outside therapists.” He found that the vast majority of the people he talked to complained that Kaiser overly relies on group therapy even when individual, one-on-one therapy would be more effective, and that patients continue to wait for weeks or sometimes months for therapy appointments.
One Kaiser therapist expressed her concerns: “I feel unethical when I go home at night, and feel really guilty,” she said. “People are suffering, and I fear some of my patients will commit suicide for lack of ongoing treatment, but I’m powerless to treat them because I don’t have return visits available.”
One patient, suffering from panic disorder, recounts her experiences being slotted into group therapy. The reporter relates, “she was sent to a group, where she says the discussions triggered her anxiety attacks. She estimated the number of patients in another group at about two dozen — “like cattle in there, how can anyone’s needs be met?” she said. So she quit.”
To read the full article, click here: KQED: Therapists, Patients Criticize Kaiser Over Long Delays for Therapy.
On July 1, 2014 KQED published the first in a series of reports about Kaiser’s mental services. In “Sonoma Co. Supervisor Presses Kaiser on Mental Health Services,” Jon Brooks reports on Zane’s intention to draw on her husband’s suicide in 2011 to push for improvements to Kaiser’s mental health services, in the hope that extensive problems with Kaiser’s provision of mental health care do not result in additional suicides and suffering. Zane expressed her frustrations: “I can tell you I have heard a lot of stories within the last few days about these types of incidents over and over again–of people who were so wronged by their treatment, by either being referred out of the system or by saying, ‘We don’t have the appointments.'”
Two separate class action lawsuits have been filed against Kaiser for denying patients access to mental health services. These lawsuits serve to underscore the severity of Kaiser’s mental health violations.
The first lawsuit, filed by the firm of Siegel LeWitter Malkani, alleges that Kaiser’s systemic denial of mental health services was the contributing factor in the suicide of a Kaiser patient. It also states that two of the named plaintiffs were forced to pay thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs in order to get the care that Kaiser should have provided them.
The second lawsuit, filed in Southern California, states that Kaiser undertook the “illegal practice of systematically denying weekly psychotherapy to its members.” The lawsuit highlights NUHW’s 2011 complaint to the DMHC that detailed Kaiser’s substandard mental health services.