Valley Hospital Spokane Valley

Photo credit to Harvey Brown

Finally, the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems who run Deaconess Hospital and Valley Hospital in the Spokane area have agreed to a bargaining date with employees.  On Friday, March 21, nurses and other medical workers from Deaconess and Valley Hospitals represented by SEIU local will be negotiating with management over workplace issues.  Staffing levels and patients care at Valley and Deaconess Hospitals will be front and center to the discussions.

Nurses and other medical workers await a bargaining date for long-awaited contracts with the Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, Wa. and Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley, Wa. Their key demand for more staffing to improve patient health and safety goes unanswered by the hospitals’ for-profit owner Community Health Systems Inc.

Workers say patients are at risk because the hospitals are not hiring enough nurses and medical staff to adequate take care of and protect patients from injuries. 

Deaconess Hospital and Valley Hospital: Dispute over Staffing Levels and the Quality of Patient Care

“It’s about good quality patient care,” said Mary Robinson, a service technician at Deaconess Hospital and a member of the SEIU bargaining team. “It’s about having enough staff to do our job correctly.”

The union said the Tennessee-based company is cutting back on staff at its Spokane hospitals for the sake of larger profits. The SEIU local said administration has not responded to requests for statistical information that would back up workers’ case for more staffing at the Deaconess Medical Center, Spokane, Wa., and Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley, Wa.

“Patient falls, failure to rescue, infection all increase as patient-to-nurse ratios increase,” said Teri Nicholson, an outpatient nurse at Valley Hospital who is on the bargaining team.

Both the management and medical staff at Valley Hospital and Spokane Deaconess Hospital know that some sort of agreement needs to be reached on staffing levels and other workplace policies.  

Contract Dispute Over Hospital Jobs

According to SEIU, Spokane Valley Hospital employees have worked without a contract since December 2012. Spokane Deaconess Hospital service employees’ contract expired last May and its technical employees’ contract expired in August.

In November, after the union filed an unfair labor practices complaint against Community Health Systems Inc.-Rockwood Health Systems for not coming to the bargaining table, a mediator was called in, Nicholson said.

In December, Spokane Valley Hospital locked out about 80 nurses for 72 hours and brought in replacement workers after the nurses and other employees held a one-day strike at Valley and Deaconess Hospitals.


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Filed under: Labor Unions

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