Swedish nurses remain concerned over ‘significant’ staffing problems
Swedish hospital nurses and health workers in the Seattle area are into the third and final day of their strike Thursday, protesting conditions that have left teams like the neonatal unit in Edmonds severely understaffed.
“My particular patients are NICU babies — they’re compromised infants that are in the nursery for one reason or another, and we try our best to give them the absolute best care,” said Swedish Edmonds NICU nurse Randi Friedner. “Sometimes we can’t be there fast enough, and that’s really heartbreaking. Parents are taking note and staying around longer because they don’t have confidence in what we’re doing.”
Friedner points to deteriorating conditions at Swedish hospitals she says began with a takeover by Providence made official in 2012.
“I chose Swedish because it had a reputation of being the best medical facility in the Seattle area,” she said. “As Providence tried to take over more, we’ve had staffing reductions. Last year was pretty significant — I was on the edge of not having a job and very concerned, and yet corporate [executives at Providence] make millions of dollars.”
Health care workers are looking to return from the picket line Friday. That could be delayed, though, with Swedish having flown in thousands of replacement nurses from across the country, contracted to work through Sunday.
In the meantime, contract negotiations have yet to make significant progress between Swedish-Providence and the SEUI Healthcare 1199NW union.
“We really haven’t gotten very far in some respects,” Friedner said.
Swedish health care workers had originally set a Jan. 14 date to strike, before opting to postpone after progress was made in negotiations. That progress has since stalled out.
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