Day 2: Kaiser mental health workers continue work strike

Kaiser mental health employees picketed in Oakland. Dec. 16, 2017

Kaiser Permanente mental health professionals contiinued their five-day statewide work strike on Tuesday amid effort to force the health care giant to provide adequate resources to its mental health division.

Kaiser employees represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers began picketing at the organization's Oakland Medical Center at 3600 Broadway at 6 a.m., union officials said.

"Kaiser wants people to believe it's finally achieving parity for mental health care when in reality patients are still waiting far too long for appointments and we are struggling with caseloads that would never be acceptable anywhere outside of Kaiser," said Mickey Fitzpatrick, a Kaiser psychologist in Pleasanton.

The union said clinics "remain severely understaffed, patients are routinely forced to wait six-to-eight weeks for therapy appointments and clinicians are so overbooked that they have to work after hours trying to help patients who can't wait for care."

Ron Groepper, Kaiser's senior vice president area manager of Greater San Francisco, said on Monday that the healthcare system is "acutely aware" of the situation. Kaiser, he said, is investing millions to try to solve the problem. Kaiser is already in the process of hiring hundreds of healthcare workers, he said, and has spent $700 million on new mental health facilities in recent years. 

KTVU's Allie Rasmus contributed to this report.