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Workers hit picket lines at Deaconness, Valley Hospital Wednesday

By Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Dec 03 2013 10:06:15 PM CST
Nurses picket at Deaconess
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Approximately 1,000 nurses and workers upset over working conditions will walk off the job at Deaconness Medical Center and Spokane Valley Hospital on Wednesday.

Nurses and hospital staff are fed up with cuts and say they have double the workload at times. They're demanding more nurses be hired to reduce the risk of something going wrong.

Staff from Deaconess will join nurses and workers from Valley Hospital in a public display of their disgust.

"Our patients deserve more staff at the bedside," Valley Hospital nurse Tami Omarro said.

Omarro has worked at Valley for 23 years; during that time they've never gone on strike until now.

"They're requiring nurses to take care of more patients, when you do ask for more help it's never available," Omarro said.

Omarro said a normal patient to nurse ratio is four to one so IV fluids, pain medicine and wound dressing is on time. But she claims at Valley it's common to be six to one, and if someone calls in sick or goes on break there could be one nurse for every 8 patients.

"In some areas I would say it can get to dangerously low levels," Omarro explained.

Steve Carlsson has to use the hospitals once a week to get blood drawn. His only complaint was when he took his niece to get her gall bladder out.

"Only time we ever had a problem was with Valley, they just don't seem to have enough people out there," he said.

Rockwood Health Systems runs both hospitals and declined the opportunity for an interview for this story or to even explain what will happen when 1,000 of its workers don't show up for work. They did, however, send a press release that stated they have, "temporary replacement nurses, service and technical workers who are credentialed, licensed to work in Washington, and experienced in the hospital areas where they would be assigned."

Those replacements went through hospital orientation Tuesday.

Rockwood said all functions of the hospitals would be normal and without delay during the strike, which is scheduled to start Wednesday at 6 a.m. and last 24 hours.

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