For Immediate Release:
Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019
Dave Bates, DaveBComms@gmail.com
Amy Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org
280 Nurses and Caregivers Prepare for Imminent Strike at Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County, Saying the Corporation Must Put Patients Before CEO Pay
Hospice and home care workers are raising alarms about patient care problems, understaffing and turnover, while Providence CEO had 157% compensation increase to over $10.5 million
The action would be part of the largest healthcare strike in recent history and include over 13,000 total Providence staff at 13 locations, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett
Snohomish County, WA — Nurses and caregivers announced that they are preparing for an imminent strike at Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County, saying the corporation needs to put patients before CEO pay. For over three and a half years, workers have been trying to solve patient care problems, overwhelming workloads and unfair wages which have resulted in high staff turnover. Meanwhile, compensation for Providence’s CEO skyrocketed 157 percent to over $10.5 million in 2017. Robert Hellrigel. The CEO of Providence’s Senior and Community Services, which oversees the hospice and homecare program, had a 31% compensation increase to over $1 million that year. Providence raked in $24 billion in revenue in 2018, and $970 million in profits in just the first three quarters of 2019.
Despite caregivers voting by a landslide to strike, management refused to make meaningful progress at the last contract negotiations on December 17 and no future negotiation sessions have been scheduled. If the strike occurs, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Providence Hospice and Home Care would be part of more than 13,000 total strikers at 13 Providence locations throughout the state. The action would be the largest healthcare strike in the nation’s recent history and include members of UFCW 21 at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and other locations, as well as the Washington State Nurses Association.
Since April of 2016, the 280 nurses, chaplains, hospice aides, social workers, clerks and other caregivers have been proposing urgent solutions to Providence executives, including more manageable workloads so they can provide compassionate care, and fair wages that recruit and retain qualified staff. Executives have rejected almost all proposals, instead repeatedly breaking federal labor law by violating caregivers’ rights.
“I’ve been a hospice aide for 11 years, lived in Snohomish County for three decades and raised two daughters here – this is my community,” said Melissa Salazar. “It’s an honor to give my neighbors and their families comfort and support at a very vulnerable, emotional and potentially chaotic time, which is end of life. As hospice workers, we have unique, important skillsets and give all our patients highly personalized care. Our patients and their family members often express their gratitude by sending heartfelt cards to the care team. But our workloads can be overwhelming, and it’s hard to give our patients the care they need when we’re chasing the clock and struggling to make ends meet. Four years ago, my youngest daughter had to have spinal surgery, and because of our high healthcare costs and unfair wages, I was only able to pay that debt off a couple months ago. It’s frustrating to be struggling in the trenches knowing that Providence’s CEO is 40 miles away in an office, receiving one of the highest compensation packages of any healthcare executive in the country.”
Nurses and caregivers are raising public awareness about the impending strike in multiple ways, including speaking directly to elected officials and community leaders; sending out a mass mailing to community members; social media ads; a website, www.ProvidenceHasLostItsWay.org/Action, which allows users to contact executives; and reaching out to the Providence Hospice and Home Care Foundation board.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of over 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health facilities, and skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington State and Montana. Their mission is to advocate for quality healthcare and good jobs for all.