Nurses, Health Care Workers Picket Over Staffing Levels - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Nurses, Health Care Workers Picket Over Staffing Levels

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Funding health care has becoming a national issue with the implementation of President Obama's health care plan; but the timing is a coincidence.

Tuesday, dozens of nurses and health care workers picked up their signs and bullhorns and took their argument to the streets outside Deaconess Hospital in Spokane and Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley: "put patient care first and restore safe staffing levels."

Registered Nurse and Service Employees International Union member Angela Crigger was among them. She told KHQ the hospital ratio used to be one nurse to four or five patients, but now it's one to six. While that may not sound like a huge change, she says the effect is compounded because aides and support staff have been cut on top of that.

"Now some days we don't have an aid, we don't have secretaries to answer the phone, sometimes there are two nurses on the entire floor," Crigger explained.

She went to Olympia to testify before the Health Care and Wellness committee a few months ago and also says hospital officials are violating Washington law (RCW 70.41.420) by not going through the safe-staffing committee when making ratio adjustments.

Also at Tuesday's picket was Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart. He told KHQ he recently met with a few doctors when one told him, "I hate sending my patients to Valley Hospital because of all the cuts they've had."

"That's what you have when you have a for-profit system, you continually cut back in order to make profits, but patients suffer when that happens, when we cut nurses on the front lines," Stuckart added.

Hospital administrators provided this written statement in response to the picketing:

"Deaconess Hospital is operating as usual today and our top priority is the care and safety of our patients, employees and visitors. All inpatient, outpatient and emergency services are available and all surgeries and diagnostic procedures are continuing as scheduled."

The two sides are scheduled to come together again tomorrow for collective bargaining.

 

 

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