Nurses and healthcare workers at Cascade Behavioral Hospital took a stand for patient care May 14 as they walked out of the hospital to call for improved staffing and an end to unfair labor practices.
Nurses and healthcare workers cite chronic staffing shortages and high turnover as warnings that patients aren’t getting the care they need, leaving both patients and staff open to ongoing assaults and injuries.
Tennessee-based Acadia Healthcare, a for-profit mental health provider, purchased the former Highline Medical Center in 2013, raising concerns that for-profit providers are capitalizing on our state’s mental health crisis, putting both patients and staff at risk.
“Every patient we care for needs a safe and therapeutic environment, but I feel like we can’t do that when I’m one nurse, caring for up to 20 patients, many of whom have been involuntarily committed and need very specific care. If one patient acts out or one patient needs me, that means I’m unavailable for the others, and that can be a safety issue for both staff and the other patients,” said RN Heather Mitchell.
Acadia Acadia’s revenue grew by 41% last year, generating $83 million in net profit. Acadia Healthcare CEO Joey Jacobs saw his base salary increase 52% last year, with his total compensation at $6.2 million, all while rejecting solutions to staffing and safety concerns in the Tukwila facility.
“Acadia Healthcare isn’t listening when we tell them this isn’t right,” said Sheran Thomas, a CNA in the geriatric psychiatry unit. “CEO Joey Jacobs is making millions, but as frontline staff we need to know he’s listening to what our patients need, not just the shareholders.”
“The Acadia Healthcare website says as part of its mission that it seeks to create an enviable environment for staff. But does one nurse to 20 patients sound like an enviable environment? Or when environmental service workers don’t have the tools or equipment they need? We can’t do what we need when the full healthcare team is not staffed. We are here to call on Acadia Healthcare and Cascade Behavioral Hospital that they must do better for our patients and community,” remarked Diane Sosne, RN, MN, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
Nurses and healthcare workers were joined by community and elected leaders for a rally Thursday afternoon to call on Acadia Healthcare and Cascade Behavioral Hospital to do the right thing for patients.
“You are talented and experienced workers who are willing to take a courageous stand for your own right,” said Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. “You’re not only standing up for yourselves, you’re inspiring other workers to stand up, too. It’s despicable that a corporation owns a healthcare facility, healthcare is a human right. No CEO should be making profits off illness.”
“We need to improve patient care and you do that by adding staff, not taking it away. We need to stand as one to get Cascade to move,” commented Rep. Steve Bergquist, representing the 11th Legislative District
The strike will continued until 6:59am Friday when workers returned to work, united and ready to continued our advocacy for patient safety.