UPDATE: Hospital Employees From Deaconess And Valley On Strike - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: Hospital Employees From Deaconess And Valley On Strike

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More than 1,000 employees from Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital are on strike. More than 1,000 employees from Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital are on strike.
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SPOKANE, Wash. -

FROM THE UNION REP: Up to 1,000 technologists, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, sterile processors, dietary, housekeeping, and admitting staff at Deaconess and Valley plus registered nurses at Valley, all members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, walked out at 6am Wednesday morning to stand up for better staffing and better patient care at the local hospitals.

"When I go on my break I hand my patients over to a coworker. That means she has 13 patients. Most nurses in this setting have 4, maybe 5 patients," said Tami O'Marro, a nurse in Family Care at Valley Hospital. "We're out here today because it's time for management to stop the staffing cuts."

Community leaders, labor leaders, and elected officials joined the staff as they began a 24-hour unfair labor practice strike to stop staffing cuts at both hospitals. The nurses and healthcare workers have been raising the need to improve staffing for years. Now that they're in contract bargaining, they've been raising the issue at the table, calling for improvements in staffing, more reasonable sick leave policies, and an end to sending staff home early while patients still need care.

"I'm proud to stand with our community's front-line caregivers," said City Council President Ben Stuckart. "They're standing up for all of us, current and potential patients. When we go to the hospital, we all need the peace of mind of knowing there are enough staff to give us good care."

Nurses and healthcare workers will maintain picket lines around the clock until 5:59am Thursday. This afternoon at 4pm, community supporters will rally with the picketers at Valley Hospital. The healthcare workers vow to keep up their fight for quality patient care.

"It shouldn't take a strike for our hospitals to get the message that we need to staff to meet our patients' needs," said Mary Robinson, Central Service Tech at Deaconess. "But we'll do what it takes to keep our patients safe."

More than 1,000 employees from Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital are on strike. The strike will last for 24 hours. They went on strike Wednesday morning. It's the first strike in Spokane by hospital employees in decades.  

The employees say they're overworked and patient care is suffering as a result.

Administrators at both hospitals say they're prepared to keep the hospitals open in the event of a strike, and will use teams of temporary replacement workers. 

Registered nurses from Valley Hospital are part of the striking employees, but registered nurses from Deaconess have no plans to go on strike.  

PRESS RELEASE:

Deaconess and Valley hospitals will continue to provide uninterrupted services and high-quality care for their patients during the strike and picketing planned by the Service Employees International Union 1199NW. The hospitals received written notice of S.E.I.U.'s intention to commence a strike and picketing beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 4.

The hospitals will remain open with all emergency services, inpatient units, and outpatient departments staffed and available for patient care. All surgeries and diagnostic procedures will continue as scheduled.

Through professional staffing agencies, the hospitals have secured qualified, temporary replacement nurses, service and technical workers who are credentialed, licensed to work in Washington, and experienced in the hospital areas where they would be assigned. The temporary replacement workers will also participate in a formal hospital orientation program prior to being assigned duties.

The temporary workers will work with employees who are not represented by the S.E.I.U. and any striking unit employees who choose to cross the picket line.

Physicians on the medical staffs at the hospitals will continue to treat patients in the hospitals as well as in their offices.

The hospitals expect a peaceful demonstration but have taken the precaution of engaging additional security to assist during the strike and picketing. All public hospital entrances and parking areas will remain open and additional security personnel will be posted throughout the facilities to assist hospital visitors.

Since earlier this year, the hospital has been negotiating in good faith with the S.E.I.U. by putting forth fair and reasonable proposals with the objective of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. We remain committed to the collective bargaining process and to maintaining a positive relationship with our employees and their bargaining agents.

  • During the past three years, Valley Hospital has earned numerous safety and quality awards from a variety of nationally-respected organizations. 
    • The Joint Commission named Valley a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for outstanding quality in pneumonia and surgical care. Valley was one of only 244 hospitals (of 3,400+ eligible) in the United States to be recognized two years in a row for these measures (2011, 2012).  In Spokane, the VA Hospital is the only other facility to earn this honor (2012, 2013 for pneumonia)
    • The Leapfrog Group named Valley as the only "A" hospital in Eastern Washington (2012, 2013). 
    • Valley was the first hospital in Eastern Washington or northern Idaho certified by The Joint Commission for knee and hip replacement. 
    • The most recent Joint Commission hospital accreditation survey (fall 2012) was passed with what surveyors called "flying colors"
    • Valley Hospital was recognized by Healthgrades in 2012 as being among the top five percent of hospitals in the nation hospital for overall clinical excellence. 
    • The Lab is Joint Commission certified as well (not required of hospital labs – demonstrates an extra commitment to quality)
    • Commission on Cancer certified (last survey 2012) with commendation

Core Measures quality scores: 99.54% thru Q3 ‘13

 

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