Kaiser Permanente mental health workers start weeklong strike

Thousands of Kaiser Permanente mental health professionals throughout California started a weeklong strike Monday to protest what they say is a lack of staffing that affects care.

National Union of Healthcare Workers says 4,000 psychologists, therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and other medical professionals will picket through Friday.

Union president Sal Rosselli tells the East Bay Times patients have to wait a month or more for follow-up mental health appointments because of low staffing levels.

He says Kaiser needs to hire hundreds more clinicians.

Kaiser's chief nurse executive Michelle Gaskill-Hames says the walkout is not about better care but to push for higher wages.

Kaiser says its medical centers will remain open during the strike. Some mental health care appointments during the week may be canceled.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 FOX 11 Los Angeles: Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.