Everett firefighter’s union speaks on ‘severe’ staffing crisis amid Providence nurses strike

EVERETT, Wash. — Nurses at Everett’s Providence Regional Medical Center are just one week away from a five-day strike.

The nurses union said that staffing issues have sent ER wait times soaring, and now firefighters are sounding the alarm, too.

“The staffing emergency at Providence Hospital is an emergency to all of us,” said firefighter and paramedic Don Huffman. He’s also the president of Everett’s firefighter’s union and is vocal about the need for more Providence nurses.

“The staffing crisis at Providence has become so severe, the emergency room wait times tie up your firefighters for hours at a time. Keeping us from being available to respond to fires and other emergencies,” said Huffman.

In a statement, Providence explained that wait times in the ER fluctuate, based on a number of factors, including “the demands from the community” and the “level of care each patient requires.”

Huffman said that the ER waiting room can get so backed up, that patients have to wait hours.

“That means that the patient that called 911 for a medical emergency is laying on a fire department gurney in the halls of Providence Hospital awaiting medical attention,” he said.

Huffman said long wait times can have a large impact on Snohomish County, not just Everett.

“When Everett firefighters are tied up at the hospital, fire engines and paramedic units are pulled into the city from the surrounding areas,” he said. “Leaving the communities that they serve with limited fire protection.”

Last month, we covered a family who is suing Providence Medical Center in Everett after 41-year-old Cheyenna Costello allegedly waited hours in the ER before dying.

In 2022, we reported on a woman who waited 19 hours for care at Providence Medical Center in Everett.

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