Health care workers at St. Joseph Medical Center picketing over working conditions

TACOMA, Wash. — Nurses at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma took to the streets Wednesday morning with picket signs, demanding better pay and staffing.

Nearly two years into the pandemic, nurses say they’re being pulled to other duties due to staffing issues.

The Washington State Nurses Association says the medical center needs to commit to minimum staffing standards and that the hospital is chronically understaffed.

“It continues to get more difficult, more challenging, and it is putting our patients at risk,” nurse Chelsey Roos said.

The nurses KIRO 7 spoke with say they would rather be with patients, but workers’ conditions in the hospital forced them to the picket line.

“We need competitive wages... we’re losing nurses at an alarming rate,” Roos said.

Nurse Emily Nollmeyer Da’nna says she often has to leave patients who are in labor.

“I was caring for a Covid patient several weeks ago, who was having her labor induction and I had to stop her induction to start triaging other patients,” Nollmeyer Da’nna said.

KIRO 7 reached out to the group that oversees St. Joseph Medical Center, which provided this statement:

“We value our registered nurses and are committed to providing a safe work environment with competitive wages and benefits that attract and retain the very best. As we face an unprecedented health care staffing shortage, we are also offering incentive pay, bonuses, and training opportunities for our staff. Our proposal to the union is fair and comparable to the pay and benefits of other employees throughout our hospital system and the Puget Sound area. We respect the collective bargaining process and as we move forward with ongoing negotiations, patients at St. Joseph Medical Center can expect to receive uninterrupted, quality care,” said Cary Evans, vice president, of communications and government affairs at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

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