Providence hospital nurses ask city to mandate hazard pay

Nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett (Wash.) have asked the City Council to support them as they seek hazard pay and to remedy staffing challenges at the facility, The Everett Herald reported July 15. 

The newspaper reported that 10 people who said they were nurses at the hospital expressed concerns about staffing levels, calling them "unsafe," to the City Council on July 13. Some of the nurses asked council members to mandate hazard pay from the hospital for workers, with one saying hazard pay could help alleviate staffing difficulties. 

"I have a very real concern for my patients' safety on a daily basis and a struggle to even meet their basic needs," Juliann Bynum, RN, a nurse for 28 years, said, according to The Everett Herald.

Ultimately, council members said they would consider how they can support the workers, although city attorney David Hall said the council may not have authority to mandate compensation, according to The Everett Herald.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett is part of the Renton, Wash.-based Providence system, which acknowledged the challenges facing hospitals and emphasized its commitment to addressing staffing issues.

"Across Washington State, hospitals are seeing an influx of patients come to emergency departments for a variety of issues, while at the same time experiencing staffing challenges resulting from the pandemic, exhausted staff, lack of a national talent pipeline and extremely high numbers of patients who are medically stable but do not have a safe place in the community to be discharged. At Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, we have well over 100 of these patients in our hospital," Providence said in a July 14 statement shared with Becker's.

Providence also said "there are no quick" fixes to the workforce challenges facing hospitals but that "we need policy solutions to graduate more nurses who will stay in Washington."

Regarding nurses' requests for bonuses and hazard pay, Providence pointed to the $220 million workforce investment the health system announced in 2021, including recognition bonuses to employees, recruitment bonuses, and employee referral bonuses of up to $7,500.

"At Providence Everett, in mid-2021 we agreed to a new contract with our represented nurses, which provides market competitive rates as well as a ratification bonus," Providence said in its statement. We have also provided pandemic appreciation bonuses and extra shift bonuses."

Providence reported that the health system in June experienced the highest number of applications per month for 2022.

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