May 21, 2013
Contact: Karin Rush-Monroe (415) 502-6397
UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, which treat some of the most critically ill patients, has prepared for a two-day strike on May 21 and 22 by working to reduce the number of patients in the hospitals by half.
In anticipation of the strike announced by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for Tuesday and Wednesday, the medical center has cancelled or rescheduled surgeries, procedures and treatments, and reduced transfers from outside hospitals.
The patient care technical workers are joined today by AFSCME's service workers who are striking in sympathy. In addition, the University Professional and Technical Employees, which represent UC health care professionals, asked its members to strike today. About 220 people were picketing at the UCSF Parnassus campus on Tuesday.
"Patients already are feeling the impact of an anticipated strike," said Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. "Each patient's doctor is reviewing his or her condition to determine who can wait or whose illness necessitates care during this period. It certainly is not ideal, but we need to make arrangements to ensure safe care for our sickest patients."
UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital deliver high-quality, specialty care that is unavailable in many community hospitals and are major referral centers for Northern California hospitals that have critically ill patients, or patients for whom assistance is needed to make an accurate diagnosis.
To date, there have been 30 patients who needed UCSF-level care and cannot access it because the medical center is not accepting transfers. At this rate, there will be an additional 70 patients who cannot be transferred by the end of the two-day strike.
The UCSF emergency department has remained open, although ambulances are being diverted to other hospitals throughout the day.
Following are additional examples of steps taken to reduce the number of patients at UCSF hospitals over the next two days:
The medical center also has closed outpatient laboratory and radiology services to focus the limited workforce on our most critically ill inpatients. The turnaround time for laboratory and radiology testing for inpatients will be increased during the two-day strike. The blood bank turnaround time will be slow, but the full range of blood products will be available.
"Our singular focus is ensuring the safety and quality of care delivered to our patients during this strike," Adler said.
About UCSF Medical Center
UCSF Medical Center consistently ranks as one of the top 10 hospitals in the United States. Recognized for innovative treatments, advanced technology, collaboration among health care professionals and scientists, and a highly compassionate patient care team, UCSF Medical Center serves as the academic medical center of the University of California, San Francisco. The medical center's nationally preeminent programs include children's health, the brain and nervous system, organ transplantation, women's health and cancer. It operates as a self-supporting enterprise within UCSF and generates its own revenues to cover the operating costs of providing patient care.
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