Union leaders representing 50,000 nurses and other U.S. medical staff reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente on Saturday, averting a strike that could have disrupted patient care at hospitals.
Thousands of employees at Kaiser Permanente in Oregon, California, Colorado and other states had threatened to walkout on Monday over the medical network’s plan to create a two-tiered wage system with lower pay for new hires.
Kaiser and Alliance of Health Care Unions, which represents 22 local unions, agreed on a four-year contract that includes wage increases each year through 2025, the union said in a statement. The deal also includes health and retirement benefits and the introduction of a bonus plan. The statement did not include any financial details.
“This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs,” Hal Ruddick, executive director of the Alliance union, said in the statement. “This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every Alliance member,” he added.
Earlier, the union said the two-tiered wage system would deepen what the nurses describe as a staffing crisis in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic.
Kaiser ranks as one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit healthcare networks and managed-care organizations, with operating revenues of nearly $24 billion last quarter.
“This landmark agreement positions Kaiser Permanente for a successful future focused on providing high-quality health care that is affordable and accessible for our more than 12 million members and the communities we serve,” said Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente.
Voting on the tentative agreement will occur over the next several weeks and once it is ratified, the agreement will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2021.
(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Dutch former queen Beatrix tests positive for COVID-19
Princess Beatrix, as she has been known since her abdication in 2013, got tested after coming down with “mild cold symptoms”, the statement said.
“The princess is at home in isolation and adheres to the rules of life for people who have tested positive,” it added.
The Netherlands has been experiencing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)
‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record
A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.
The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.
Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.
Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.
She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”
Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.
Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.
Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.
Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.
“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.
“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”
Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.
Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.
For Bardarson, that’s not enough.
“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”
Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.
She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.
Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.
Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.
– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19
Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said.
Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said the pair had been put into quarantine as a precaution.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines,” said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.
The coronavirus is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, and it is proved to have passed from humans to animals.
Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.
The disease has also spread in mink farms and to wild animals, such as deer.
Antwerp Zoo is investigating the causes of the contagion. None of the zookeepers had recently shown COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the zoo said.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Helen Popper)
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