Temporary medical staff keeps local hospitals open during strike




Posted on December 4, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 7:13 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Patients at Deaconess and Valley Hospital had mixed reactions to a union strike which began Wednesday. There were patients inside the hospitals that needed to be cared for while hundreds of employees marched outside.

Deaconess and Valley hospital representatives said they were prepared for the strike and brought in temporary medical staff to keep the hospitals open.

The hospitals said they are trying to be reasonable and want to work with staff to get everyone on the same page. Yet, the strike for better health care began in Spokane on Wednesday.

READ: Deaconess and Valley Hospital workers strike

More than 1,000 unionized staff members from Deaconess and Valley Hospital had the option to picket.

Nurses and technical staff represented by the Service Employees International Union or SEIU 1199 were the faces on the picket line.

Jason Yearsley and Brooke Brakeman’s new baby was born prematurely in October. They drove from their home in Coeur d’Alene to Spokane everyday to the neonatal infant care unit at Deaconess.


READ: Deaconess and Valley hospital workers threaten to strike


The two said they have never felt a lack of care inside the hospital walls.

“There's been plenty of enough people to help us out to do what's needed to get the job done as far as we're concerned,” said Yearsley.    

Healthcare workers on strike claim there is more going on behind the scenes than the patients see.

“I've been doing this for 33 years, this is probably the worst I’ve ever seen it for patient care,” said Steven West who works for outpatient imaging and cardiology.

Some patients were worried about not seeing their regular staff members on Wednesday.       

“Since earlier this year, the hospital has been negotiating in good faith with the SEIU by putting forth fair and reasonable proposals with the objective of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement,” said a statement released by a spokeswoman with the hospitals.

“I'd like to see them walk a mile in our shoes. The way we have to shuffle things around skipping breaks and missing lunches because we don't have the staff to cover it,” said West.

The picket line will continue all through Wednesday night until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning.