Union nurses walked off the job around 6 a.m. Tuesday and planned to picket both Everett campuses until Sunday morning. Providence hired temporary nurses from a staffing agency to care for patients, ensuring a “seamless transition.”
Carrington said the hospital is operating well with half its usual workforce, and replacement nurses have provided “high-quality and safe care.” But Carrington also said the current workforce “would not be sustainable on a long-term basis.”
Julie Bynum, one of the Providence nurses on strike, said the hospital has enough nurses on staff this week — in fact, units are staffed better than they are on a regular basis, she said.
“Our patients are getting better care right now than they have in a long time,” she said, while picketing in front of the Colby campus Friday.
Nurses are “heartbroken” they aren’t caring for their patients this week, Bynum said, and are frustrated it took a strike for the hospital to fully staff the units.
During the first two days of the strike, hospital staff served 400 patients in the emergency department, admitted 177 patients, performed 103 surgeries and another 87 procedures, according to hospital records.
Some travel nurses may not have known they would be working a strike when they signed their contracts, Carrington said.
“We may not have had the strike notice ahead of time,” Carrington said at a press conference earlier in the week. “Our travelers have a choice, no traveler was forced to work. … We had some of them who did choose to work and we had some choose not to, and we’re OK with that.”
Since 2019, Providence Everett has lost more than 600 nurses. Most units have remained chronically understaffed. Providence and the nurses’ union have gone back and forth on whether staffing enforcement should be included in a new labor contract. Striking nurses want a contract that gives them extra pay during understaffed shifts.
Providence has offered nurses a 21.5% raise over three years, schedule flexibility, free mental health visits and other incentives, said Michelle Lundstrom, chief nursing officer at the Everett hospital.
“We agree with nurses that we need immediate solutions,” Lundstrom said Thursday. “We love our nurses, we wish they were with us.”