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Originally posted online at:

Patient Problems, as Kaiser Remakes Image

Re "Kaiser Made It Hard to See an MD, Critics Say," Sept. 1:

Kaiser hinders access to doctors in this area as well as in Northern California. First, callers are insulted by a time-consuming
and unnecessary request for their complete address and phone number in addition to their name and membership number.
The receptionist can see this information on her computer screen. Appointments are not available for four to six weeks, and
Kaiser will not place the caller's name on a waiting list.

The only way to obtain near-term nonemergency care is to wait and wait at an urgent care center. David Campbell

Los Angeles

"Access" is only part of the difficult, circuitous route that patients face at Kaiser. After a serious back and neck injury in 1998,
with severe pain and many neurological symptoms, I actually got to see many specialists. However, after a while, I realized that
I was being passed from one specialist to another without ever getting a diagnosis or substantial treatment or follow-up. Finally,
one year after the injury and a suicide attempt because of severe, ongoing pain, I had an appointment with the Kaiser pain
management doctor, who prescribed medications to help me.

My attempts to take Kaiser to arbitration on these matters failed due to statute problems and arbitration limitations set by Kaiser.

Nancy Allen
Leader, West San Fernando
Valley Fibromyalgia Support Group, Northridge

Your story on Kaiser Permanente's "in the hands of doctors" campaign talked about internal concerns of living up to that slogan.
I was internal communications manager of KP's California division during that time and vividly recall the intense disdain that Kaiser's
local and regional public relations staffs had for that marketing campaign. The local PR folks at Kaiser, like its physicians, want to use
their limited resources to deal directly, honestly and as effectively as possible with the overriding concern of patient access, which
remains a major issue at every Kaiser medical center. They really resented having to go to mandated internal PR strategy meetings
and concoct elaborate communications plans to support "in the hands of doctors" and similar ill-conceived strategies.

Paul Omundson