Caregivers file no confidence vote against Swedish hospital administrators

Dire warnings Tuesday from nurses and caregivers at Swedish Medical Center, who lodged a vote of "no confidence" against hospital leadership with regard to patient care. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE – Dire warnings Tuesday from nurses and caregivers at Swedish Medical Center, who lodged a vote of "no confidence" against hospital leadership with regard to patient care.

Hospital workers said they only want the best outcomes possible for their patients. However, ever since Providence bought out Swedish in 2012, they said healthcare at the Swedish campuses have been going steadily downhill.

“There are many units that are critically short of nurses and the patients are in danger to be honest,” said Betsy Scott, a registered nurse in the oncology department at Swedish First Hill.

Medical staff from across the Swedish healthcare system said too many problems are going unaddressed in how the hospital treats patients. They aired their fears during a “speak out” organized by SEIU 1199NW.

Doug Davis cited instances where basic equipment failed. He said in one instance, colleagues had to scramble to keep someone from choking to death on their own blood because a suction machine wouldn’t work.

“I'm just taking it to the community, with my union, to sit there and say enough is enough," Davis said.

Others pointed to administrators increasing the number of patients, but not adding more staff to care for them. The workers said they've taken their concerns to management - but little gets done - and now they want to warn the public.

“I am afraid at times for my patients to be in the hospital because of the care that we are able to provide for them,” Scott said.

SEIU 1199NW now plans to file 22 new complaints against the Providence-Swedish Health Alliance with local, state and federal regulators. They said the goal will be to force changes that will better serve patients.

Regarding staffing levels, the hospital insists it meets accepted standards that are "appropriate to the needs of our patients."

As to the no-confidence vote, Swedish CEO Dr. Guy Hudson released a statement:

At Swedish, we value all our caregivers, including the represented caregivers, and are committed to engage and partner directly with them as they provide our patients extraordinary care every day. I am disappointed by this union negotiating tactic.

“Since I became the permanent CEO five months ago, I have personally met with thousands of caregivers in forums, department meetings, rounding and in one-on-one conversations. In addition, I recently invited several SEIU-represented caregivers to meet in my office to share their concerns.

In September, over 9,600 Swedish caregivers -- 81 percent of all employees -- provided detailed, constructive feedback to me and my new leadership team through our annual internal caregiver survey. The results show Swedish has made progress across multiple engagement categories, and we use caregiver feedback to focus on opportunities to improve.

We all came to Swedish with a shared commitment to improve people’s lives and serve our community. As CEO, I welcome feedback from all our caregivers. Our collaboration helps us make Swedish the best place to work and receive care.

I believe in uniting our people to serve our Swedish mission together. We welcome constructive, data-driven conversations with our union partners. A disruptive approach and an us-vs.-them mentality benefits no one, certainly not our patients.

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