SPOKANE, Wash. — Nurses at Sacred Heart are calling on Providence to put hospital nurse and patient safety before profits.

Nearly 500 nurses gathered Thursday afternoon outside the hospital.

According to the Washington State Nurses Association, the nurses have been negotiating with Providence for months over nurse staffing and safe patient care with little progress.

Nurses at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland are also picketing outside their hospital.

Nurses at both hospitals say issues include:   

  • Making sure nurses aren’t penalized for staying home while they themselves are sick or injured
  • Ensuring nurses have time to take care of their own injured or ill family members
  • Hiring and retaining enough nurses to cover patients’ needs
  • Jointly developing safety practices to prevent workplace assaults, especially in light of serious safety issues experienced at both Kadlec and Sacred Heart.

Nurses at both hospitals say they are being asked to give up more and more, even after Sacred Heart and Kadlec administrators got huge raises, WSNA officials said.

Providence Associate Vice President of Communications Elizabeth Deuyer released a statement Thursday saying:

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Washington State Nursing Association (WSNA) are actively bargaining to reach a contract that is agreeable to both parties. While we don’t agree with WSNA’s characterization of our proposals, Providence respects that today’s activities are part of the bargaining process. We don’t intend to comment on WSNA’s negotiation tactics. Instead, we encourage union leaders and caregivers to focus their efforts on productively reaching agreements at the bargaining table.

Our management team and our represented employees all share the same goal of providing the best possible care to our patients. We love and value our nurses, who are among the most experienced and compassionate caregivers in the state. We all want this to be the best place to work and the best place to go for care—when we stay focused on why we were called to serve in the health care field, we accomplish great things together.