Kaiser and Coalition Unions Reach Agreement on Ebola
Commitment to patient care, staff safety and education
Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions have reached a formal agreement that ensures the safety and compensation of KP employees involved in caring for patients with the Ebola virus.
The agreement, reached December 15, 2014, clarifies questions coalition unions had about the engagement and protection of their members who may encounter or care for a patient with Ebola. It codifies standards outlined by the Centers for Disease Control around protective protocols and equipment. It also outlines training and support provided to employees, including for employees who may be unable to work during an isolation period for a possible Ebola exposure.
Safeguarding workers and patients
“As health care workers, we’re used to putting our patients first,” said Ken Deitz, president of United Nurses Associations of California (UNAC). “Because Ebola is an infectious disease, to maintain patient safety we also had to ensure our own safety.”
The parties came to agreement quickly and with little disagreement, with conversations focused on clarifying the practices KP facilities already are doing as outlined by Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
Union and KP leaders say it reflects their desire to work together—and to continue to focus on educating, protecting and preparing employees who may come in contact with Ebola patients.
“By working together, we have ensured that employees are prepared to care for patients with Ebola while keeping themselves and their colleagues protected from infection,” said Kathy Gerwig, vice president of Employee Safety, Health and Wellness for KP.
Education, training and protection
Specific provisions of the agreement include:
- All employees with the potential to interact with, treat, or do cleaning or waste handling for suspected Ebola patients will receive paid time for education and training in such areas as Ebola signs and symptoms; care and treatment; proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment; proper cleaning of treatment rooms or areas; and proper disposal of the patient’s body fluids and wastes.
- Employees in key treatment or intake areas will receive sufficient personal protective equipment supplies.
- Ebola treatment teams would be staffed by volunteers. If there are not enough volunteers, local KP and union leaders would identify team members.
- If a coalition union-represented employee cannot work, or receives care as a result of work-related exposure to Ebola, the employee will receive paid time off, and all medical costs will be covered through workers’ compensation.