Washington hospitals stuck in staffing crisis

SEATTLE — As COVID-19 case counts continue to drop, Washington hospitals remain stuck in a serious staffing crisis.

Some nurses say administrators at local hospitals are putting their bottom lines before patient safety.

Harborview Medical Center nurse Sam Conley said after two years of the pandemic, the burnout is real.

Of the 120,000 nurses licensed in Washington, only half are working.

Conley said travel nurses are getting paid double to fill in as needed.

“We do not have a shortage of nurses willing to work. We have a shortage of nurses willing to work in these conditions,” said Conley.

Conley said everything has been tried at the hospital level to bring about change, with no progress.

At this point, solutions need to come from the Legislature.

House Bill 1868 is on its way to the Senate.

The bill contains provisions to improve worker safety and patient care and enforce existing break and overtime laws for nurses.

Conley said a similar bill passed in California and is already improving patient care and dropping mortality rates.

According to a release from House Democrats, a poll revealed that more than 80% of health care workers reported being burned out while 49% said they might quit the health care industry. When asked why they might quit, more than 70% specified that a shortage in staffing was a huge reason, the release stated.