State Senator Ricardo Lara, whose district includes a significant portion of the city, introduced legislation today to improve staffing at more than 550 dialysis clinics in California, 10 of which are located in Long Beach.
SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, would require yearly inspections of dialysis clinics, while current law requires inspections every six years. Nursing homes in the state must be inspected yearly, and hospitals every two years, according to an announcement released today by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), one of the largest hospital workers’ unions in the western United States.
Workers at dialysis clinics regularly report dangerously low staffing levels that threaten patient care. SB 349 would improve staffing levels in California, while seven states already have minimum staffing level requirements: Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
An incident last March at an Anaheim clinic where a patient collapsed in the parking lot could have been prevented if more staff had been on-hand at the time, a worker said, according to the release.
“Dialysis patients are grandparents, children and siblings, not numbers on a balance sheet,” said Lara in a statement. “It’s time to fix the dialysis industry and improve patient care for the more than 63,000 Californians who rely on this life-saving treatment in clinics daily.”
Those who have kidney failure must have their blood removed, cleaned and put back into their bodies. A typical dialysis treatment takes three hours and must be done three days a week for the rest of the patient’s life.
“The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – make $2.9 billion a year in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States, but workers say the companies pocket the money rather than improve patient care or provide adequate staffing in their clinics,” stated the release.
The 10 clinics in Long Beach that would benefit from Lara’s legislation are: US Renal Care Long Beach Dialysis, US Renal Care West Coast Dialysis, Long Beach Quest Dialysis Center, FMC Dialysis Services of North Long Beach, Bio-Medical Long Beach Community Hemodialysis Unit, Long Beach Harbor (UCLA), Bixby Knolls Dialysis, United Dialysis Center, Nephron Dialysis and El Dorado Dialysis.