Forum: Providence must work with nurses to ensure patient safety

The hospital should bargain in good faith to ensure better staffing, resources and accountability.

By Julie Bynum / For The Herald

Over the past two years, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett has experienced a staggering loss of more than 600 nurses. While some have been rehired, the ongoing shortage persists, I and others believe putting patients’ lives in jeopardy.

Before 2022, I cared for a manageable load of four patients per shift. Nowadays, it’s common for me to care for six to seven patients per shift, while night shift registered nurses are tasked with handling seven to eight patients. Alarming research indicates that mortality rates significantly rise when a nurse cares for more than four medical-surgical patients; mortality increases by 7 percent with five patients and by 14 percent with six patients. It’s shocking that Providence’s management considers this situation acceptable. While a staffing shortage persists in health care, the staffing crisis at PRMCE is unique in our region and has led to severe patient safety issues.

On August 16, the hospital placed a full-page ad in this paper implying a lack of good faith from nurses and our union, UFCW Local 3000, in negotiations. To clarify, they are referring to the seven nurses at the bargaining table representing the nearly 1,400 nurses at the hospital’s campuses. Nurses understand the necessary solutions to address the staffing crisis and enhance patient safety. Despite this, PRMCE directs its efforts toward tarnishing our bargaining team’s reputation, misleading the public in the process. This is disheartening.

PRMCE nurses unite to champion patient safety. Our proposals tackle the crisis head-on:

• Empowerment through collaboration: Nurses and PRMCE collaborate to devise safety-focused solutions.

• Third-party mediation: Binding mediation to resolve long-standing staffing issues impartially.

• Effective resource allocation: Consultations with the chief nursing officer to ensure proper allocation for safety.

• Accountability mechanisms: PRMCE commit to meeting staffing goals, eschewing lip service.

These proposals align with the law, expediting solutions through our union contract. Nurses seek a voice in care-affecting decisions, and transparent staffing processes bolster effective solutions.

Patients deserve quality care without their lives hanging in the balance because of inadequate staffing. It’s time Providence Regional Medical Center Everett acknowledges the gravity of this situation, engages in sincere collaboration, and prioritizes patient safety above public relations strategies. The well-being of our community depends on their course of action.

Julie Bynum is a registered nurse at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

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