EVERETT — As union nurses returned to work at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, the next steps for contract negotiations remained unclear Monday.
Early Sunday morning, nurses ended their strike that garnered national attention. It was a “seamless transition,” Providence regional CEO Kristy Carrington said Sunday.
“Our patients continued to receive high-quality care,” Carrington said Sunday. “We are grateful for the nurses who chose to work during the strike.”
Providence brought in 520 nurses and hundreds of volunteers to replace the 1,330 who walked out over chronic understaffing last Tuesday. The Everett hospital remained open and “fully operational” throughout the week, Chief Nursing Officer Michelle Lundstrom said.
Nurses on the picket line expressed frustration when Providence leadership staffed the hospital with more nurses during the strike than they do on a regular basis. On Friday, nurse Trevor Gjendem said he anticipated to come back to an understaffed hospital.
When nurses returned to work Sunday, one unit was short at least two nurses compared to staffing during the strike, according to schedules obtained by the Herald.
“There is quite a bit of frustration,” Gjendem said. “When they wanted to, they could staff the hospital. When it’s us, all of a sudden it’s not as important.”
Gjendem said he hasn’t sensed any tension between nurses and management since the strike ended. He has more of a problem with executives who make financial decisions affecting patient care.
Providence did not comment on staffing schedules, but said more staff was needed during the strike, since replacement nurses were not as familiar with the Everett hospital’s operations.
“Our staffing issues haven’t disappeared,” Providence spokesperson Erika Hermanson said Monday. “A ratified contract … will ease the staffing burden.”
A date had not been set for hospital leadership and the nurses’ union to continue contract negotiations.
“We look forward to returning to the bargaining table once both parties are ready,” Carrington said Sunday.
So far, both sides remain at odds over staffing language. Nurses want a contract ensuring adequate staffing in the hospital, including higher pay during understaffed shifts. Providence would rather focus on alternative staffing models, across-the-board raises of 21.5% over three years and incentives for nurses to come into work.