A review of recent national and Washington State nurse staffing data and survey results indicates that there are enough nurses to safely staff hospitals, but that the quality of jobs is leading many qualified registered nurses to leave their Washington hospital jobs.
The public is becoming increasingly aware of a problem nurses have known about for a long time: the nurse staffing crisis that is dangerously depleting our hospitals. The COVID-19 pandemic has both highlighted and accentuated this crisis.
The reality cannot be overstated: Washington hospitals are on the brink of a crisis, and without immediate and impactful action to retain and attract critical workers the state’s health care system could face an unprecedented collapse in capacity and care.
Because Governor Inslee has issued this mandate, health care employers – public and private – have to abide by the mandate. However, all employers still have to bargain with WSNA over the effects of the mandate.
As unions representing nurses and health care workers in Washington state, WSNA, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW21 support science-based public health directives on COVID-19 vaccination requirements for frontline health care workers, with medical and religious exemptions.
On June 21, Governor Inslee announced that three coronavirus pandemic-related proclamations would be rescinded in anticipation of Washington state's June 30 reopening date. One of these proclamations, the High-Risk Worker Proclamation, will be rescinded June 28 and transition to the new Health Emergency Labor Standards Act.
WSNA is committed to the health and safety of our nurses as well as other frontline caregivers, our families, patients, and communities. In keeping with this commitment, WSNA strongly recommends that all nurses and other health care providers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I strongly encourage you to work closely with the health care workers and their unions in your facilities as you are developing your COVID vaccine distribution and prioritization plan," wrote Governor Jay Inslee in a letter to hospital administrators on Dec. 15.
We believe that healthcare workers should be prioritized to receive the vaccination and strongly recommend that registered nurses be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a key component of a comprehensive prevention effort.
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.
The leaders of WSNA and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW today called on state officials to address the serious shortcomings in oversight and transparency that we believe contributed to the severe outbreak of COVID-19 among staff and patients at St. Michael Hospital in Bremerton.