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At picket, Valley Medical nurses call for better staffing

The following is from SEIU HealthCare 1199NW:

RENTON (July 16, 2015) — Every patient should receive the best care, and it starts with the right number of staff, say nurses and healthcare workers at Valley Medical Center. Citing concerns that the hospital is denying improvements to staffing and care standards, the workers Wednesday walked the picket line and rallied with community and elected leaders to call for greater accountability for our community hospital.

seiu1199nw-valley-medical-15jul15“This is about much more than just financial well being, but an issue that impacts our entire community. Patients should come first,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.

“We care for the community. This hospital belongs to all of us,” said Lita Steward, an Occupational Health LPN at Valley Medical Center. “We know our patients make the trip to our hospital because they want to be cared for at Valley, generations of patients have walked through our door. As frontline care experts, we’ve brought solutions that we know will help our patients. Valley should have an interest in working with us to improve care.”

Currently nurses and healthcare workers have to double up on patient loads to cover co-workers for enough time to eat or take needed breaks. Workers proposed solutions including a guarantee on a maximum patient load and a standard for safe breaks, standards that would ensure patients aren’t “doubled up,” with an additional eye on safety for both staff and patients. The hospital has rejected those solutions.

“Valley should stand by its word that it values a collaborative culture and that they want to put patient care first. Staffing, especially, impacts all of us. Patients shouldn’t have to wait and we’ve delivered solutions to the hospital that will benefit everyone, from patients, to nurses, to housekeepers. It’s time for the hospital to step up and be accountable to the entire hospital district,” said MaryAnn Gibbs, a housekeeper at the hospital.

Workers picketed before and after their shift and during breaks. The current contract expired June 30, 2015.

Valley Medical Center (Public Hospital District No. One) serves Kent, Renton, two-thirds of Tukwila, and portions of Auburn, Black Diamond, Covington, Federal Way, Maple Valley, Newcastle and Seattle.

Some 1,450 Registered Nurses and healthcare workers at Valley Medical Center are united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. For more information, visit

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