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Nurses, healthcare workers, and behavioral health professionals are using our voice as members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW to advocate for policies that bridge the divide to bring quality healthcare, good jobs, and social justice for all.

In the 2014 Legislative Session, we’re advocating for:

Quality care and patient safety:

Patient Safety Reform: Every year 98,000 patients die from preventable medical errors. We could prevent these errors if we improved nurse staffing levels in our hospital. That’s why nurses and healthcare workers across the state are supporting a law to provide guaranteed, enforceable staffing levels in our acute care and state psychiatric hospitals. Hospital staffing committees will have the authority to determine staffing levels above the minimum standards and to determine the appropriate levels of other nursing staff such as CNAs and Unit Secretaries.
Keep patients, nurses, and healthcare workers safe with real rest breaks: Thousands of nurses and other hospital workers are forced to deliver complex, demanding medical care while fatigued. That’s why we need a law that requires uninterrupted breaks for nurses and hospital workers who deliver direct-patient care.
Prevent mandatory overtime for nurses and healthcare workers: In 2002 we recognized how mandatory overtime puts patients at risk and we passed landmark legislation prohibiting mandatory overtime. Since then, hospitals have found a loophole in the legislative where they rely on on-call nurses, techs, and CNAs to fill anticipated staffing shortages. We must close this loophole and expand the mandatory overtime law to prevent hospitals from abusing ‘call’ and workers.

Improving safety in our state hospitals: A recent report (“Workplace Violence Prevention Programs Review: Washington state Department of Social and Health Services”, September 2013) showed that violence in our state hospitals is a constant disruption to our patients and their progress, as well as our safety. Unequivocally, the report recommended improvements in staffing and acuity. We need 25 additional FTE’s at Western State Hospital and 15 additional FTE’s at Eastern State Hospital along with designated facility and equipment upgrades.

Fully funding community mental health:  Our mental health clients experience different levels of crisis. To serve them we must provide a mental health safety net that includes community mental health clinics, residential care, transitional care and housing, crisis responses services, acute care, and services at our state facilities. This continuum of services saves our state money, and it saves lives but only if we fund it. After years of cuts we need to fully restore an integrated system that funds services our clients need. Our state also needs to act to restructure RSN services.

Affordable Healthcare:

Protecting care for state employees: We need to recruit and retain qualified state employees to continue providing quality care to all patients. State employees including Registered Nurses, professional techs, and healthcare workers reached an agreement with the state on healthcare costs with an 85/15 cost share. Now the legislature needs to fund the agreement. Our new agreement includes a partnership with the governor on wellness improvements that will contain costs and improve health.
Ensuring employer accountability for workers on Apple Health: The Affordable Care Act works to keep employers accountable to providing coverage for their workers. But we need to close a loophole that hurts low wage workers and taxpayers by allowing employers to drive workers to Medicaid by reducing their hours to less than 30 per week.

Civil rights and equal justice:

Invest in our future and pass the DREAM Act: Our state has long valued education, fairness, and diversity. The Washington state DREAM Act would build on these values by extending state-based financial aid to our state’s young aspiring citizens, helping them reach their potential as the next generation of leaders while strengthening our state’s economy.

Support the Affordable Care Act:
Ensure everyone has access to care: As we continue to implement the Affordable Care Act in our state we need to support outreach programs to uninsured populations who may not yet be enrolled in Medicaid or signed up for a plan under the state’s Health Benefits Exchange.

Strength for all workers:

A living wage for all workers: An increasing number of our state’s workforce is employed in low-wage jobs, including pockets of workers in hospitals and in behavioral health positions. This creates greater income disparity across all job classes. That’s why we support raising Washington’s minimum wage to a living wage, such as $15 an hour within the next three years.
Paid sick days for everyone in our community: We all get sick. But not all of us can stay home when we are contagious. A uniform statewide paid sick leave standard is needed to ensure good public health practices for the patients we see, and provide economic stability to Washington families.

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