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Fighting for mental health care

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

First photo: Kaiser clinical psychologist Rich Garcia (from right), registered nurse Rikki Patrizio and psychologist Dave Hawkey wave signs at the intersection of Kaahumanu Avenue and Maui Lani Parkway Thursday afternoon in Wailuku. Mental health clinicians with the National Union of Healthcare Workers launched a three-day statewide strike from Wednesday through Friday amid contract negotiations and concerns with understaffed clinics. “Nobody wants to be on strike,” Kaiser licensed psychologist Rachel Kaya said while sign waving. “It’s a very painful decision. I’m supposed to be inside there seeing seven patients. We have been a union for four years and we have bargained 31 times, but we still have no contract. Mental health is last on their list.”

Second photo: “We’re fighting for our patients,” said striking psychologist Dan McAlinden while waving a sign with the same message Thursday outside the Maui Lani facility. Retired psychologist Melissa Ring, who was also sign waving Thursday, said she works at the call center and is often forced to tell people who work up the courage to reach out for mental health care that it may be months before they can get an appointment. “For many people it’s hard to admit they need health care,” she said. “And then I have to tell them it may be months before they can get an appointment.”

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