Execs called to resign at hospital where nurse called 911 on her own ER

Leaders at St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Wash., are the target of a petition of no confidence.

UFCW 3000, which represents hospital workers, is circulating the petition. The petition calls for the resignation of both President Chad Melton and Chief Nursing Officer Jeanell Rasmussen, RN, citing "years of ineffective response" to issues at St. Michael.

"Our community has been advocating for a safe hospital for years as workers repeatedly sound the alarm on the serious issues plaguing St. Michael Medical Center," the petition states. "Unfortunately, after years of ineffective response, and after workers have had to repeatedly report their concerns to hospital leadership through committee meetings, contract negotiations, and very publicly through picketing, media and outreach to legislative officials, the healthcare workers' pleas have been met with empty promises as the situation continues to deteriorate."

The union said this situation includes staffing issues and specifically pointed to Oct. 8.

That day, an emergency department nurse called a nonemergent line at Kitsap County's 911 dispatch center to request help from the local fire department because of unsafe staffing, UFCW 3000 said. The union contends hospital administration fired the emergency department director, instead of immediately addressing the staffing issues.

Other issues cited by the union include "significant infection control issues"; "constant payroll errors"; and "leadership refusing healthcare workers' requests to divert patients to neighboring hospitals when the medical center does not have the staff to safely accept additional patients."

James Terwilliger, senior vice president and COO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, stood behind the care and compensation at St. Michael.

"Washington was recognized as the No. 1 state for nurses to work in the United States, and we are proud our nurses at St. Michael Medical Center are among the highest paid in the state," he said in a statement shared with Becker's. "We are aware of a petition being circulated in Kitsap County by the UFCW, the labor union that represents some of our employees.

"While this unfortunate union tactic has been disruptive to the organization, we remain focused on what's most important, which is providing high-quality care to the patients we serve. St. Michael has been the sole healthcare provider in this community for over 100 years and is consistently recognized among the safest and highest quality hospitals in the country. We will continue to listen to feedback from our employees, their representatives and the community as we partner on collaborative solutions," Mr. Terwilliger said.

The hospital also said it is navigating a shortage of critical care professionals, resulting in some unacceptable wait times in the emergency room, and is making various efforts to alleviate those challenges "by listening to our staff and community, redoubling our recruitment and workforce development efforts, and paying our nursing staff some of the highest rates in the state, as well as utilizing traveler nurses to fill vacancies. We know we still have work to do, and we're committed to doing it."

St. Michael is part of Tacoma, Wash.-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. Read the full petition here.

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