Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tragedy Stains SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Barbara Ragan's husband (from Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Here's a breaking story that leaves a tragic and disgraceful stain on Dave Regan's name.

Readers may recall that in December, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan shamelessly pimped for Kaiser Permanente by pairing up with Kaiser’s top executives, including John Nelson, to deny a variety of well-documented problems affecting thousands of Kaiser’s mental health patients.

Regan famously told Modern Healthcare that Kaiser's mental health staffing violations had been "completely solved." (Of course, Regan forgot to tell the journalist he has no clue about these issues because his union doesn't represent Kaiser’s mental health clinicians.)

Regan’s denials came just three months after Kaiser paid a $4 million fine for "systematically" understaffing its mental health clinics, falsifying patients' appointment records, and forcing patients to wait weeks and months for the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other conditions.

Fast forward to last weekend.

On Saturday, a California newspaper reported the latest suicide of a patient experiencing lengthy appointment delays at Kaiser. The victim was a former member of Regan's own union, SEIU-UHW. She spent 16 years working in the Medical Records Department at a Kaiser South San Francisco Medical Center.

In case that’s not enough, the suicide victim's last name offers a not-so-settle reminder of Dave Regan's shameful denials of mental health patients' struggles to get care at Kaiser. Her last name is "Ragan" -- pronounced identically to "Regan."

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Barbara Ragan struggled for years with depression and recently sought care from Kaiser's ER after her depression grew worse. On a recent Sunday morning -- in the middle of her two-month wait for a Kaiser psychiatry appointment -- Ms. Ragan drove herself to Kaiser Santa Rosa Medical Center, drove to the top of the Kaiser parking structure, and with her Kaiser card in her hand, jumped to her death.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat quotes her husband as saying the following:
“She drove right over to Kaiser … 16 years working there … she was very upset about them. She went right up to the parking area near the emergency room,” he said. “To me, that’s a statement of what they’re doing out there, how they treat people.”

A member of Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors -- whose own husband committed suicide while waiting 42 days for a Kaiser appointment to treat his depression -- also criticized Kaiser and contradicted Regan's shameful statements. According to the article:
[Sup.] Shirlee Zane disputes assertions that Kaiser has since greatly improved its mental health services.
“Clearly that was not Barbara Ragan’s experience,” Zane said. “She didn’t get what she was seeking; neither did her husband or her children.”
Zane has publicly stated that Kaiser’s lack of mental health services played a role in her husband’s 2011 suicide. She said the HMO’s ongoing problems with access to therapists continue to endanger the lives of those suffering severe mental health issues.
"How many more wake-up calls do they need?” she said. “They have completely and utterly made these public statements that they have improved their services.”
Zane said Kaiser is “exactly where they were two-and-a-half years ago” when the DMHC issued a scathing report criticizing the health plan’s mental health services.

Saturday's article also quotes NUHW’s Sal Rosselli:
“This tragic situation is the inevitable cost of a system run by accountants rather than caregivers,” Rosselli said. “How many people have to die before Kaiser listens to the clinicians they hired to fix the problem?”

What did Dave Regan say to the press?    


Here's a link to the full article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Kaiser Permanente Faces Renewed Criticism over Mental Health Services after Santa Rosa Suicide."

Tasty sends his heartfelt thoughts and condolences to Barbara’s family and friends.