Nurses and caregivers announced Monday that they have secured three billboards throughout Auburn to raise public awareness about urgent patient safety concerns, understaffing, work force turnover, labor law violations and unfair wages at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center (MAMC), according to a SEIU Healthcare 1199NW news release.
The billboards are part of an overall public information effort that also includes a website, MAMCPutCareFirst.org, which allows users to email and call MAMC President Mark Smith; social media posts using the hashtag #MAMCPutCareFirst; an online video featuring frontline healthcare workers speaking out; a mobile billboard, which will circle the hospital and MultiCare headquarters in Tacoma; and public actions.
“Caring for patients at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center is all about giving back to my community because I live near the hospital,” said Saina Covello, who has been a certified nursing assistant in the Medical-Surgical Department for nine years and has lived in Auburn for 15. “But when I have 10 patients on the night shift who have just gone through surgery, and I have to reposition them, walk them, take them to the bathroom and other duties, it is absolutely overwhelming. Part of why we’re severely understaffed is that we’re underpaid. I’m raising a 16-year old and everything from food to gas is going up. Instead of wasting resources on professional sports team sponsorships, MultiCare needs to invest in patient care and good jobs for our community.”
The 350 healthcare workers at MultiCare Auburn have been asking management to listen to their serious concerns for over eight months, since they started union contract negotiations on July 31, 2018 and their contract expired on Sept. 30 last year. Recently, caregivers filed federal charges against MultiCare for violating labor law.
SEIU 1199NW represents licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, ER techs, sterile processing techs, food and nutrition services workers, housekeepers and other staff.
Mark Swart, media relations manager for MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, noted that thousands of MultiCare employees are represented by unions, and the hospital strives to have a strong and collaborative relationship with those groups who share its goals of taking care of the patients the hospital serves.
“We have been working collaboratively and constructively with SEIU on a new contract that will affect about 300 employees at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. Those jobs include food service workers, lab assistants, medical records coders, technicians and licensed practical nurses. We have made great progress toward an agreement that positions both our employees and our hospital for the future. We wanted to resolve those issues in the fall when the contract expired, but there are a few areas, including pay, that we are still discussing. We are committed to providing all employees with competitive wages and benefits, and MultiCare’s current proposals would do just that. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement,” Swart said.