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Registered Nurses at UW Medical Center Hold Candlelight Vigil to Highlight Concerns for Quality and Safe Patient Care

SEATTLE, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA), representing more than 1,200 nurses at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC), held a candlelight vigil to demonstrate the nurses' concerns for safe patient care over stalled contract negotiations. The last mediation session is scheduled on September 15th. The outstanding issues include:

-- Rest between Shifts - The Hospital's proposal to reduce the time of rest between shifts places both patient care and RN safety in jeopardy. Research studies confirm that the amount of time nurses receive between shifts is directly linked to an increase in negative patient outcomes. Any attempt to reduce the time of rest between shifts for RNs is simply irresponsible.

-- Economic Package - In order to recruit and retain qualified nurses in this time of a shortage of nurses, we must have a competitive economic package that is consistent with hospitals throughout the region and the State. UWMC's current wages are 8% below other Seattle area hospitals.

-- Changes in Benefits - Proposed changes by the Hospital will greatly reduce the nurses' ability to take time off including time off to care for sick family members. Nurses simply want to maintain the current level of benefits and are not demanding anything additional.

"During these negotiations, the Hospital has not demonstrated a willingness to address the nurses' concerns. This lack of willingness is evidenced by the Hospital's repeated attempts to take away every advantage contained in the current contract which ensures safe patient care and protects nurses from exhaustion and burnout. While UWMC is a State organization, no direct funds are allocated by the State for wage increases for the nursing staff. According to the UWMC, the Hospital funds all nursing wage increases. Therefore, unlike other State employee negotiations that are taking place, the state budget deficit is not a consideration for these negotiations," said Linda Machia, JD, Chief Spokesperson for WSNA UWMC Negotiating Team.

"Less rest between shifts is not safe and not acceptable. Any reductions in our benefits are not acceptable. Relying on temporary nurses instead of investing in our own permanent nursing staff is not acceptable. The RNs at UWMC are united in our goal of outstanding patient care, safe working conditions and a good quality of life for the nurses and patients at UWMC. We want to reach a fair agreement so we can continue to provide the best care for our patients," said Steve Krauss, RN, CNOR, WSNA Local Unit Chair for UWMC Registered Nurses.

The flame of the candlelight has long been a symbol for nursing since the days of Florence Nightingale. It represents the unity of nurses and the proud tradition of the profession that they exemplify every day. "We are gathered for this vigil tonight to reflect on the impact that these proposals could have on the welfare of the patients and nurses at this great hospital and the larger community. Just as these candles will light our steps when we walk this evening, we hope that this vigil will illuminate the issues facing UWMC nurses and puts us on a path towards a safe, fair, and rapid resolution," said Kim Armstrong, BSN, RN, President of WSNA.

Founded in 1908, WSNA is the professional organization representing more than 15,000 registered nurses in Washington State. WSNA effectively advocates for the improvement of health standards and availability of quality health care for all people; promotes high standards for the nursing profession; and advances the professional and economic development of nurses.

SOURCE Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA)
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