The Trouble With Kaiser's Technology

Sam Levin | East Bay Express | September 10, 2014

Nurses say the healthcare giant's new Oakland Medical Center is plagued by dangerous equipment malfunctions, ineffective communication systems, and chronic understaffing.

In July, Kaiser Permanente opened its new $1.3 billion Oakland Medical Center — a twelve-story hospital that features a wide range of advanced technological features. Located at Broadway and MacArthur Boulevard, the center is one of three new Kaiser hospitals opening in the Bay Area this year.

While officials with Kaiser, the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in the country, have touted the Oakland hospital's state-of-the-art features, nurses said that Kaiser has become increasingly reliant on technology in an effort to cut costs and maintain dangerously low staffing levels. Nurses say they often do not receive adequate training on how to use unfamiliar equipment, and in some cases, the technology itself is fundamentally flawed.

More troubling, nurses said that multiple technologies in the new hospital — including a critical cardiac monitoring system — are malfunctioning on a regular basis, putting patients at risk. And despite Kaiser's investments in a modernized facility with cutting-edge technology, the hospital has been plagued this summer by a lack of basic supplies and functioning equipment, such as epidural pumps for mothers in labor, according to numerous nurses. "There's incredible technology in this new hospital. It's beautiful. But we are still having major, major problems and we don't have enough nurses," said Katy Roemer, a Kaiser Oakland maternity nurse...