Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Providence nurse’s tearful plea shines light on short-staffed ER

The nurse described an overwhelmed emergency department, as staff have pleaded with the Everett City Council for hazard pay.

EVERETT — Providence Regional Medical Center Everett nurses have continued to call on city lawmakers to require the hospital to issue hazard pay.

For almost a month nurses from the hospital have spoken in public comment during the Everett City Council’s weekly Wednesday meetings. They describe a hospital, especially its emergency department, in trouble with overworked employees and no relief in sight.

One nurse’s tearful plea from the council meeting on July 27 went viral on social media.

Heidi DeBauge, the nurse in the video with over 110,000 views, has been a trauma nurse there for over three years. She chose that unit for its broad range of medical care and fast pace.

“This is the hub. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” she told The Daily Herald.

Now she worries how much longer she can endure the conditions. Patients in chairs instead of beds or padded seats. Patients in hallways instead of in a room. Patients waiting and sitting around up to 70 hours for beds to be available upstairs.

“I do every care task for every single patient that I care for,” she said. “You don’t feel good about it at the end of the day.”

Kelli Johnson, an emergency department nurse, told the council last week that Providence leadership’s plan could take years to see results and won’t address problems that persist now.

Position vacancies prompted the hospital to close some units temporarily. That pushed those patients into the emergency department and created a higher workload than normal.

“If we don’t have enough staff to safely care for patients, we have to close beds down, which puts pressure on the emergency room,” Providence Northwest CEO Darren Redick told the council last week.

The issues at the hospital remain: too many patients, not enough beds and nurses.

There are about 100 patients who are medically stable but don’t have a place to be discharged, Redick said. Those patients need about 100 nurses, in addition to nursing assistants and other employees, to care for them.

Staffing losses have mounted, with a net decrease of 91 over the past year, Redick said. Providence is trying to hire over 250 nurses for its two Everett hospitals.

“Our nurses are tired, our nurses are stretched,” chief nursing officer Janine Holbrook told the council.

Some nurses left for better paying travel positions, as that field’s demand and rates grew during the pandemic. Others need a break, Holbrook said. Workload was a common complaint, Redick said.

But union representative Anthony Cantu said nurses are leaving Providence, not the industry or hospitals altogether.

In Everett council meetings, nurses have said hazard pay could encourage nurses to pick up another shift and help keep those already hired.

After the nurses’ initial request in July, city attorney David Hall questioned if Everett has legal authority to require hazard pay from the hospital.

Councilmembers Mary Fosse, Paula Rhyne and Don Schwab are working with those nurses and their union, UFCW 3000, to draft something in support of the Providence nurses, Fosse said.

“What’s going on in the Providence ER is a canary in the coal mine for what’s ahead for other hospitals,” Fosse said.

Providence Northwest’s leaders told the council higher reimbursement rates, more investment in nursing education access and more post-hospital health care facilities are all part of the solution.

Last year the union and Providence agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with pay raises and bonuses between $1,500 and $7,500.

Providence is offering referral bonuses for new hires and could use licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants and nursing students to help manage workloads.

Ben Watanabe:425-339-3037;; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Foamy brown water, emanating a smell similar to sewage, runs along the property line of Lisa Jansson’s home after spilling off from the DTG Enterprises property on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. Jansson said the water in the small stream had been flowing clean and clear only a few weeks earlier. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Neighbors of Maltby recycling facility assert polluted runoff, noise

For years, the DTG facility has operated without proper permits. Residents feel a heavy burden as “watchdogs” holding the company accountable.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

Dan Templeman speaks during a forum lead by The Daily Herald on housing affordability at the Mukilteo Library on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
At Herald forum, experts affirm Housing First model, despite downsides

At the Mukilteo Library, panelists discussed drug-contaminated housing and lengthy cleanup efforts in Snohomish County.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.