Tag Archives: NUHW

Mental Health Clinicians to Kaiser Board Member Cynthia Telles: Resign!

tellesSal Roselli, the president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the union that represents over 2,500 mental health clinicians at Kaiser, explains in The Huffington Post why Kaiser Board Member Cynthia Telles has reneged on her commitments and must resign her position with Kaiser.

Roselli writes, “As a psychologist, Telles is bound by this same ethical code to protect the interests of a highly vulnerable population seeking care from Kaiser. But Telles has utterly failed to live up to that obligation. Telles refused to meet with her mental health peers working inside Kaiser clinics when they first sounded the alarm. She did not speak up when Kaiser patients took their own lives. She did not speak up when lawsuits were filed. She did not speak up when journalists took up the story. She did not speak up when the reputation of Kaiser’s psychiatric services plummeted. She did not reply to scores of signed letters written by Kaiser clinicians, imploring her to intervene and correct these problems.”

He continues, “This is the state of Kaiser Permanente mental health services: leaders hiding in the corporate bunker, hoping the crisis will just go away. Unwilling to take action or to admit mistakes, Cynthia Telles and the rest of Kaiser’s executives have hunkered down and lawyered up.”

This hypocrisy has lost Telles the faith and confidence of Kaiser mental health clinicians. We call on Cynthia Telles to resign in hopes that Kaiser will replace her with a true advocate for its psychiatric patients.”

Read the entire op-ed: “Kaiser Mental Health Clinicians for Board Member’s Resignation”

Huffington Post: Kaiser is Failing its Mental Health Patients

Kaiser Permanente is Failing its Mental Health Patients, Huffington Post

by Sal Roselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW)
10/24/2014

kaisers mental health care crisisIn September, after more than a year of stonewalling its patients and employees, Kaiser Permanente finally paid a $4-million fine levied against it by state regulators because of the HMO’s chronic, illegal, and too often tragic failures in mental health care.

Spurred by whistleblower complaints from Kaiser’s own mental health clinicians, an investigation by the state’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) found the HMO guilty of “serious” and “systemic” violations of California law that put mental health patients at risk. The result: In June 2013 the DMHC hit Kaiser with a $4-million fine — the second largest in the agency’s history — for forcing thousands of patients to endure illegally lengthy waits for care, falsifying patients’ appointment records, and violating the California Mental Health Parity Act, which requires HMOs to provide psychiatric services that are on par with their primary health services.

To read the rest of the article, click here: Kaiser Permanente is Failing is Failing its Mental Health Patients

SF Examiner Op-Ed: Kaiser Must be Held Accountable for Mental Health Care Failures

The San Francisco Examiner recently published an op-ed by Sal Roselli, the president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, calling on the Department of Managed Health Care to hold Kaiser Accountable for the various problems with its mental health care services.

Kaiser Must be Held Accountable for Mental Health Care Failures, by Sal Roselli

September 4, 2014

Kaiser Permanente is failing its mental health patients.

kaiser photoSpurred by whistle-blower complaints from Kaiser’s own mental health clinicians, an investigation by the state’s Department of Managed Health Care found the HMO guilty of serious and systemic violations of California law that put mental health patients at risk. The result: In June 2013, the DMHC levied a $4 million fine — the second-largest in the agency’s history — against Kaiser for forcing thousands of patients to endure illegally lengthy waits for care, falsifying patients’ appointment records, and violating the California Mental Health Parity Act, which requires HMOs to provide psychiatric services that are on par with their primary health services.

“Kaiser appealed, of course, but now faces the prospect of a hearing, scheduled to begin Monday in Oakland, during which patients and whistle-blowers would give public testimony regarding Kaiser’s deficient care. For weeks, Kaiser has been negotiating a settlement with the DMHC in hopes of avoiding such a spectacle, and a settlement is indeed likely given Kaiser’s political connections.

“The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents 2,500 mental health professionals at more than 100 facilities throughout California, stands with the thousands of patients who have suffered as a result of Kaiser’s violations in calling for the DMHC to hold Kaiser accountable.”

To read the full op-ed, click here: SF Examiner: Kaiser Must be Held Accountable.

Deadly Delays: Kaiser’s Flawed Model for Care

East Bay Express Image In its August 13-19, 2014 issue, East Bay Express published the first in a two-part series on the serious problems with Kaiser’s mental health services.

A Flawed Model for Care

Kaiser Permanente has been held up as a national model for healthcare, but critics contend that it routinely fails to adequately serve patients with mental health problems.

By Jake Nicol

Fred Paroutaud had a gift. Music was a language he had been speaking his entire life. He loved the way he could express himself with his long fingers and piano keys. Tall and slim with salt-and-pepper hair, the Richmond resident had even found a way to make a successful living from it: composing scores for television and movies.

Yet despite having no history of mental illness or drug addiction, Paroutaud suffered a psychotic breakdown at age 57. Unsure of what was happening, his wife, Susan Futterman, took him to see his regular doctor at their health provider Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael and was referred to the emergency room. ER staffers then promptly sent Paroutaud to a private, Kaiser-contracted psychiatric facility in Vallejo — St. Helena Hospital Center for Behavioral Health. During Paroutaud’s 72-hour stay at the facility, doctors diagnosed him with having bipolar disorder, otherwise known as manic-depressive illness. Yet despite the fact that Paroutaud was still suffering from hallucinations, doctors discharged him.

Kaiser mental health therapists put Paroutaud in an intensive outpatient group therapy program that included four-hour-a-day sessions four days a week. But most of the other patients in the program were recovering from substance abuse, so Paroutaud felt out of place. He requested to see a therapist one-on-one. Instead, doctors prescribed him with medication, which proved ineffective. Soon he stopped taking it.

Futterman didn’t know what to do with him. He was no longer the confident, caring husband she knew. One day, she found him standing alone in the kitchen of their home in the city’s Point Richmond district, staring at the floor, his eyes unfocused. He was getting worse.

Paroutaud’s unresponsiveness worried Futterman more than his psychotic outbursts. He had a large group of friends that he suddenly had no interest in. He had been an avid vintage car enthusiast and owned a 1967 Lamborghini that he restored himself. He had even helped create an online forum about vintage Lamborghinis. But he had become consumed by a deep depression and was no longer interested in his hobby.

Futterman called Kaiser and asked to set up an appointment between Paroutaud and his psychiatrist. She said she was told that the psychiatrist was on vacation and that no one was covering his patients while he was away. Kaiser staffers recommended that Paroutaud return to group therapy and continue taking his medication. She said she was told repeatedly that Kaiser doesn’t offer one-on-one therapy.

Desperate, Futterman called Kaiser every day for two weeks begging to have her husband seen by a therapist. On June 28, 2012, exactly two months after Paroutaud’s initial breakdown, Futterman came home to find her husband in their living room hanging from a rope tied around his neck. She cut him down and frantically tried to revive her husband with CPR.

It was too late. Paroutaud’s suicide was a tragic end to his brief-yet-intense battle with mental illness.

To read the full story, click here: A Flawed Model for Care.