I have been a registered nurse at Providence Everett Medical Center for almost 37 years. Things have been gradually changing at the hospital over the past several years, for example more short-staffing issues.
At this time, retention of experienced nurses is at an all time low, and recruitment of new nurses is difficult as well. Our pay scale is less than other hospitals nearby, and nurses are going to work elsewhere due to the wages and culture. This leads to poor staffing which affects patient safety.
For a few months, the hospital offered a bonus for extra shifts, which really helped. That has been cancelled, however, because they believe that “the pandemic is over” and circumstances have changed. The reality is that we are seeing a similar amount of covid-19 positive patients now compared to last year. Many of the units in the hospital are working very short staffed which is leading to burnout amongst the nurses. This after a year of being on the front-lines and caring for covid-19 patients and dealing with the uncertainty and fear of a worldwide pandemic.
Our nurses’ union, UFCW 21, is negotiating a new contract for the registered nurses. Providence is proposing to decrease our vacation hours as well as take away our extended illness bank (sick time). Many nurses have hundreds of hours of sick time accrued, because we believe in being prepared for anything. I personally have over 200 hours which I have carefully saved over the years in case I need to have surgery or have any major illness. They are proposing to eliminate this benefit and not compensate us for accrued hours. In other words, they are robbing us of our earned benefits! When I retire, I am able to get 25 percent of my sick time cashed out, but with Providence’s current proposal, I get nothing.
We are having an informational picket at the Pacific and Colby campuses from 3 to 5 p.m. May 5. Please stand with us to increase patient safety, recruit and retain quality nurses, and increase staff satisfaction; all of which affect you the patient! We nurses love caring for the citizens of Everett and Snohomish County and hope that you will support us in our endeavors for fairness.