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HEALTH CARE: State Delay Could Make Nurses Hold Their Ire on Ratios

State Delay Could Make Nurses Hold Their Ire on Ratios

Health Care – Laurence Darmiento

Registered nurses are set to rally across California on Dec. 11, in anticipation of the release of state regulations to set minimum nurse-to-patient ratios at hospitals.

But the Department of Health Services says it may not meet the Jan. 1 deadline for issuing the ratios.

Lea Brooks, a department spokeswoman, said the delay is the result of intensive background work being done by regulators, including unannounced visits to 90 hospitals.

“We want to be able to support them,” Brooks said.

The department has good reason to worry, with the hospital industry and nurses’ unions far apart in their respective proposed ratios submitted to the state.

The California Nurses Association has blasted the hospital industry for seeking delays in the ratios’ implementation. But the California Healthcare Association said it would rather have the ratios done right than rushed.

Another option, Brooks said, would be for the agency to issue emergency regulations prior to Jan. 1 and then hold public hearings afterward that could lead to alterations. Union Warfare

There’s no love lost between the California Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union, especially after the SEIU started trying to aggressively organize registered nurses this year.

Now the CNA has fired back with the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union, a new union it helped start this summer to organize the lesser-skilled hospital workers who have long been the domain of the SEIU.

The new union trounced the SEIU a few weeks ago in elections at two Catholic Healthcare West hospitals, including Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center. But the SEIU is disputing the results. It also charges the new union is a CNA front.

Fernando Losada, acting director of the new union, says the organization is independent. But he admits the CNA has offered help, financial and otherwise, in starting up the union, currently based at the Southern California headquarters of you guessed it the CNA.

Aetna Troubles

Last year, Aetna Inc. brought in a doctor as its new chief executive, to overhaul the nation’s largest (but money-losing) health care insurer. So far it has little to show for its efforts

It may want to check in with the South Bay Independent Physician’s Medical Group Inc. to find out why.

New Aetna chief, Dr. John Rowe, has promised to make the company more responsive, but according to William T. Ross, executive director of the South Bay IPA, Aetna’s rank and file haven’t gotten the message.

The 450-doctor group recently decided it would not renew its Aetna PPO contract after tiring of late claim payments and complaints that took forever to get resolved, he said.

“We are not seeing any difference down in the trenches,” Ross said

Aetna had no direct response to the complaints.

Staff reporter Laurence Darmiento can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 237 or at


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