Representing more than 64,000 nurses and frontline health care workers, the Washington State Nurses Association, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 applaud Governor Jay Inslee for listening to and addressing the concerns of our members in Proclamation 20 – 24.2, “Reducing Restrictions on, and Safe Expansion of, Non-Urgent Medical and Dental Procedures,” issued today.
Nearly nine months into our state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, our members continue to work in fear for their own safety and that of their patients. Our members were overworked, understaffed and unprotected in the early months of the pandemic – and that cannot become the new normal.
We have been working in crisis mode for months, now; the pandemic has taken its toll in COVID-19 illnesses and even deaths among the frontline health care workers who step up every day to care for COVID-19 patients.
Today, hospitals where our members work are reporting to the State that they have sufficient PPE, and our state’s stockpile has enough PPE on hand to fill any gaps. There is no excuse for continuing to put health care workers and patients at risk by following the crisis and contingency PPE standards implemented at the beginning of this pandemic. It is time to return to the CDC’s safety standards that were in place in hospitals before the pandemic began.
We have seen COVID-19 outbreaks among patients and staff at St. Michael Medical Center, St. Joseph Medical Center, MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, Cascade Behavioral Health, Harborview Medical Center, Providence Regional Medical Center, St. Mary Medical Center, and others. If we are to prevent outbreaks in additional hospitals around the state, it is critical that we provide nurses and other health care workers with the PPE, safe staffing levels and timely testing they need to prevent further hospital-based COVID-19 outbreaks.
The proclamation released today includes safeguards for frontline nurses and health care workers and is consistent with CDC, Washington Department of Health and Department of Labor & Industries advice and standards.
Washington has been a national leader in this crisis, reporting relatively fewer COVID-19 cases compared to other states; public health officials, health care workers, hospitals and members of the public have worked together to meet this crisis head-on. As the anticipated COVID-19 surge is hitting our state, this is no time to go back on what we know works: PPE, testing, staffing, and support for essential health care workers.
WSNA is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, providing representation, education and resources that allow nurses to reach their full professional potential and focus on caring for patients. WSNA represents more than 17,000 registered nurses for collective bargaining who provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools and community and public health settings across the state.
About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 30,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.
About UFCW 21
UFCW 21 is working to build a powerful union that fights for economic, political and social justice in our workplaces and our communities. UFCW 21 represents more than 45,000 workers in health care, grocery stores, drugstores, cannabis, retail, and other industries in Washington state.