Dear Editor:

I’m writing in solidarity with Angela Richards’ op-ed published last week calling on Kaiser Permanente to put patients first.

I’ve worked at Kaiser’s Fontana Medical Center in environmental services for 18 years, and I’ve never felt less appreciated and more burnt-out than I have since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My department, and others, already struggled with overwork and high injury rates; Kaiser’s unwillingness to invest in staffing solutions has only worsened these conditions.

At home, when there’s something wrong, I simply fix it. At work, I’m often juggling my own tasks along with duties outside of my usual assignments, and I’m left feeling like my hands are tied. I see it in my colleagues’ faces, too. We’re working harder and faster than ever, and at significant risk.

My union, USW Local 7600, has been at the table trying to bargain a contract with Kaiser that reverses this dangerous trend since this past spring. Management, however, has yet to offer a proposal that prioritizes patient care and safe staffing, which is why tens of thousands of union members who are part of the Alliance of Health Care Unions (AHCU) voted to grant the authority to authorize a strike.

We cannot be cast aside anymore. We can no longer be put in a position where we have to choose between our own health and offering our patients the safest, cleanest facilities they deserve.

I urge Kaiser to invest in patient care and those who provide it.

Nicole Lemelin

Beaumont

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