Delores Prescott is a registered nurse at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. and proud member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. Prescott entered nursing school right after graduating high school and states she has loved nursing every day for more than 20 years. She has worked for Swedish-Providence for the last 15 years and is currently a night charge nurse in the short stay unit.
“As nurses, we are the first ones our patients see when they wake from surgery. We’re the warm hand they hold. We are who they ask for. We may be the ones there for their last breath,” said Prescott. “But it’s a struggle to give that to patients when we’re understaffed, and at Swedish-Providence, we’re severely understaffed.”
There are around 900 open positions currently at the hospital and Swedish-Providence has been unable to fill them.
“This puts a strain on staffing and this leaves us open to being overworked and becoming exhausted,” said Prescott. Like many other union members, Prescott is concerned about the effect this could have on patient care.
That’s why after 10 months of intense bargaining Prescott and her 8,000 co-workers have voted in favor of a 3-day strike set for January 28. It would be the largest strike in Washington in recent years.
“This is a result of management's refusal to bargain for a fair contract,” Prescott said. “We have given management every opportunity to do the right thing, but they continue to prioritize profits over safe staffing levels..”
Providence Health & Services, the multi-billion-dollar national corporation that owns Swedish, made nearly a quarter-billion dollars in profits last year.
“It's a struggle not only for us but for our patients as well. But I know when we’re united in our union we can push Swedish-Providence to address quality care and safety for both patients and hospital workers,” says Prescott. “We are more determined than ever."