Swedish nurses strike over, not all nurses at work

VIDEO: Swedish nurses' strike over, but some might not be able to return to work right away

When striking nurses returned to work at Swedish First Hill on Friday morning, they were met by security guards.

Swedish says only nurses and caregivers contacted by their managers, about 2,000, were allowed inside to work on Friday.

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Some union members rallied outside and called the move a partial lockout, but Swedish says it warned employees and members of SEIU 1199 in advance that it was hiring replacement workers for five days.

They will do a rolling return to work -- based on demand, and with everyone back by Sunday.

Nurses say the strike is about patient safety linked to staffing shortages.

Spring Hintermeister is a nurse in the ICU at Swedish on First Hill. She described what happened as the strike started Tuesday morning before security walked them out of the building.

"We were told to make sure our patients were totally sedated because it was going to be anywhere from 30-60 minutes before a nurse was there to take care of that patient," said Hintermeister. She says there were doctors on the floor, but that there weren't any nurses and no one would have access to medication.

"I can tell you as an ICU nurse at Swedish when I left that morning it did not feel safe. I did not feel I was leaving my patients in a safe condition."

KIRO-7 asked Swedish about Hintermeister’s concerns about patients in ICU.

Swedish sent a response:

"For the safety of the replacement workers, it is best practice and a request by the replacement agencies that the two groups not interface, so the replacement workers felt safe and protected from any type of intimidation. To ensure patient safety, full handoffs were facilitated by striking caregivers with their clinical managers and physicians so that the care was safe and seamless."

“We do not have reports of any serious events that occurred during the strike period.”

All workers are expected to be back at work by Sunday morning.