Nurses at Kittitas Valley Healthcare Present Petition to Hospital Board Calling for a Fair Contract


More Than 1,500 Community Members Have Signed Petition Supporting KVH Nurses

Nurses and community members gathered at a Kittitas Valley Healthcare (KVH) board meeting on August 22, 2013 to present a petition to the board calling on them “to treat the nurses fairly and agree to a respectful contract”. The Washington State Nurses Association, representing over 100 nurses at KVH, has been in negotiations with the hospital for over 18 months. Nurses have raised several safety concerns and are also now expressing fear that the lengthy and contentious negotiation process is threatening the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain nurses.

“As a member of this community, I signed the petition because I want to let the nurses know that I appreciate how hard they work and believe they should have a fair contract. We’re here today because this board is ultimately responsible for the direction of Kittitas Valley Healthcare. They’re elected by this community and they need to serve this community. Over 1,500 people agree that it’s time for our nurses to have a fair contract. As a community member, a voter and a potential patient, I’m asking the board to do what’s right for Kittitas Valley and make sure the nurses get a fair and respectful contract,” said Steve Lembeck, a signer of the petition.

The administration continues to resist the nurses’ input on important safety issues like staffing and rest breaks. The nurses have proposed 15-minute rest breaks for nurses at Kittitas Valley, matching the industry standard. Rest breaks are a critical tool in preventing fatigue and ensuring that nurses can stay focused and alert throughout a shift.

“We want to make sure the contract provides for the highest level of care. I enjoy getting the opportunity to provide a high level of care to members of this community in the same hospital I was born at, but I also need to feel like this hospital is a partner with me and values my skill and expertise. That means listening to nurses. We are the frontline of patient care. Uninterrupted rest breaks give us the time we need to recharge and refocus so we can be sharp throughout a shift” said Paul Kelly, RN, a nurse at Kittitas Valley Healthcare.

Management has proposed tying compensation to hospital profits. Nurses are objecting to the plan and the goal of focusing on profits rather than the patients at the bedside.

“As a nurse, my patients are my top priority, not profit margins. I want to take care of the people in this hospital just as I would take care of my own family. That means making health and safety the bottom line. As nurses, we simply are not in a position to make a significant impact on the financial standing of this hospital, and it isn’t appropriate or fair to base our salaries on hospital profits. At the bedside, you want a nurse 100% focused on your care, not hospital profit margins. That’s what this community deserves,” said Wayne Foley, RN, a nurse at KVH.