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Healthcare workers, patients to rally for bill to improve safety at dialysis clinics

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Healthcare workers, patients to rally for bill to improve safety at dialysis clinics

/ 11:21 PM May 18, 2017
In this Dec. 16, 2013 photo, charge nurse Steve Belcher, left, works with patient Antoinette Swearinger at the DaVita Downtown Dialysis Center in Baltimore. The center is one of many in Maryland that will be affected by medicare reimbursement cuts to dialysis centers. (AP Photo/The Daily Record, Maximilian Franz)

A dialysis clinic in California. ASSOCIATED PRESS

SACRAMENTO, California – Hundreds of healthcare workers, dialysis patients and allies from across California will rally at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 23 at the State Capitol to back legislation to improve patient care, safety and staffing at 560 dialysis clinics throughout California.

SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, would mandate annual inspections of dialysis clinics, safer staffing levels and 45-minute transition time between patients.

Currently, dialysis clinics are inspected on average every five to six years, while nursing homes in California must be inspected every year. Even restaurants are inspected annually. The time between patient treatments at a dialysis station can be as short as 15 minutes, which is not enough time for patients to recover from their session or for workers to sanitize equipment and prevent infections.

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“When I started dialysis 20 years ago, the clinics were well-staffed, clean and safe, but things have only gone downhill since then,” said Vince Gonzales, a dialysis patient from Pomona, Calif. “I see blood on machines and chairs and there are not enough workers to keep up. We need this legislation if we’re going to make clinics safer for patients.”

The legislation has passed two Senate committees, and faces a June 2 deadline to be voted on by the full Senate. The bill’s author is Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The rally follows a scathing segment about the dialysis industry broadcast May 14 on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment for 66,000 Californians with kidney failure, but their patient care is suffering. The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – made
$2.9 billion in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States in 2015, but workers say the companies are not spending enough money to improve patient care or provide adequate staffing in their clinics.

Dialysis workers in California are trying to join a union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), to improve working conditions and strengthen worker and patient protections.

WHO:             State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens)

Dialysis patient, Crystal Lorea (Los Angeles)
Dialysis clinic worker, Emerson Padua (Beaumont, Calif.)

Rebecca Gonzales, National Association of Social Workers

Gary Passmore, Congress of California Seniors

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WHEN:  10 a.m., Tuesday, May 23

WHERE:         State Capitol (East Lawn), Sacramento, Calif.

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TAGS: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, bill to improve dialysis clinic safety, Da Vita, events, Fresenius, SB 349, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), The Dialysis Patient Safety Act
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