Providence nurses in Everett are on strike; Hospital says patients will be safe
Nov 15, 2023, 10:05 AM | Updated: 10:27 am
(Photo: Sam Campbell/KIRO Newsradio)
Nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett walked off the job this morning.
According to the union, the hospital’s 1,300 nurses went on strike at 6 a.m. The hospital said patients should not worry. It explained backup nurses are set and ready to go.
The hospital said the strike, which is scheduled to last until Sunday, may impact some non-urgent care and operations.
Nurses said they are tired, fed up with having to work in a short-staffed situation and want a better contract. That’s why they voted to strike two weeks ago.
“This strike is all about the community. It’s all about staffing,” one nurse on the picket line, Trevor Gjendem, told KIRO Newsradio’s Sam Campbell. “I heard people say ‘Will a strike work?’ I don’t know, but we have to try.”
HAPPENING NOW: The strike at Providence Regional Medical Center has begun.
Nurses are walking out, a few at a time — cheered by their colleagues already waiting for them.
I’m hearing some of the nurses are being walked to the door by their managers. pic.twitter.com/M4IBUmco18
— Sam Campbell (@HeySamCampbell) November 14, 2023
“No. 1 (is) patient safety. So, we are working together with Providence to get a contract that prioritizes patient safety over everything,” Labor and Delivery Nurse Kristen Crowder said. “We want patients to come to the hospital to get the care they need, get the time that they need with their nurses so that they can have education, how to learn blood checks, or monitoring blood pressure, whatever needs to happen. That’s ultimately what we’re fighting for is for the patients to get the care that they need.”
Background on the issues: Providence nurses fight for better rights after more than 600 quit in last 18 months
Crowder said, “It ultimately came down to staffing and wanting our nurses to have some sort of reassurance that they’re not going to be having these really heavy loads on a daily basis. And they [Providence] were not willing to do that.”
Nurses said they have been have been short-staffed since 2018 and the pandemic exacerbated the situation.
Nurses voted to go on strike last week with 97% of nurses agreeing to the proposal until Providence Medical ended what they call “unfair labor practices.”
About 600 nurses have left or retired since 2021, and nurses say staffing issues have made working at the hospital a challenge for several months, including last June when their emergency room had to turn away new patients due to overcrowding.
“We have to pay attention,” Gjendem said. “The time is now.”
Nurses said the emergency department lobby is often full with 40 to 50 patients, some waiting several hours to be seen, some receiving care in the lobby.
Providence Everett covers a large portion of Snohomish County and exceeds patient capacity across all departments. It also has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the state. It’s one of just two hospitals in the region that perform life-saving procedures for victims of Level 2 trauma, such as a heart attack or stroke.
In a media release, Providence Regional Medical Center (PRMCE) wrote:
PRMCE’s team has now turned their attention away from negotiations to preparations for the work stoppage. Our primary goal is to continue to serve our patients safely throughout the strike.
The PRMCE bargaining team will return to the bargaining table after the strike. For the duration of the strike, PRMCE has brought in qualified replacement nurses to care for our patients. We are appropriately staffed to ensure our patients receive the same high-quality care they have come to expect at our hospitals. We anticipate no reduction or restriction of services during the strike.
PRMCE has offered UFCW-represented nurses a 21.5% increase over three years, with an average of 13% upon ratification. The proposal also includes incentives and flexible shift options to improve staffing and reduce workloads for our nurses. The average salary for a PRMCE nurse is currently $121,000 per year, and a full-time nurse works three days per week. Nurses are also currently eligible for additional bonuses and incentives on top of their salary.
Contributing: Sam Campbell, L.B. Gilbert and Micki Gamez