The UW has been negotiating its contract with three medical centers — Harborview Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, and Northwest Hospital & Medical Center — since its first proposal in April. Medical staff in each hospital, however, see real on-the-ground issues within, and missing from, the contract.
“We’re always struggling to find staff to take care of patients,” said Chris Lopez, a nurse at Valley Medical. “Valley’s motto is — at least it used to be — was ‘patient safety is our number one priority.’”
Lopez feels being understaffed has direct consequences for patients because there aren’t enough employees to see the number of people coming in.
During the Board of Regents’ meeting Nov. 12, Lopez was one of many medical staff who showed up to express these concerns.
“We need to get our patients the proper care all the time and very quickly because time matters,” he said at the meeting. “We don’t want our patients to hit the call light and have nobody show up.”
According to Lopez, Valley Medical currently sends out “robo-voicemails,” texts, and emails to staff every half hour or hour, trying to get people to come to work. He isn’t talking about just people who have the day off either; he’s talking about staff that are already at work but are asked to stay.
Lopez isn’t the only one feeling the strain. Staff at other hospitals under the UW medical contract are also having these issues.
Vanessa Patricelli from Harborview also voiced her concerns during the public comments section, referencing what it was like to be understaffed during the accident caused by a Ride the Ducks tour bus on Aurora two months ago.