RICHLAND, Wash. — Washington nurses say they're feeling hopeful after bills combating workplace violence and caregiver-fatigue passsed the House on Wednesday.
Closer to home, Kadlec nurses and union reps are preparing for their first round of mediation with their employer for safer working conditions.
Jayson Dick with Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) was a Tri-Cities nurse for 13 years.
He says nursing is physically, emotionally and mentally taxing: candidates know that going into the field.
But recently they've begun speaking out against some of the more dangerous aspects for nurses and their patients.
The American Nurses Association reports 25-percent of nurses are affected by workplace violence.
WSNA says this is unacceptable.
"Nurses are the front line of healthcare and that can be a very dangerous place," Dick said. "This has been a long-standing issue and it's unfortunate that brutal attacks like this have to happen before it comes to the forefront of the conversation."
Nurses are upset about attacks like the one we told you about in September, when a patient in Kadlec's ICU allegedly attempted to strangle his nurse.
"For a long time people believed it was part of the job,"he explained. "And it's not; it should not hurt you to do your job."
Jayson Dick says rather than focusing on hours and wages, the majority of this round of of bargaining is exploring working-conditions of Kadlec's more-than 900 registered nurses.
"We're getting in front of them rather than having reactionary responses to the workplace violence," he said. "To make sure nurses are part of the conversation of what the safe-staffing needs to look like."
Dick says nurses catch a lot of medical errors and exhausted nurses are a less-effective front line.
"Safe nurses equal safe patients, so it is a community-interest issue," he said. "We're out there fighting for the community."
In a statement, Kadlec told Action News the safety of caregivers and patients is their highest priority:
Kadlec and the Washington State Nurses Association are actively bargaining to reach a contract that is agreeable to both parties. Kadlec respects this process and we value our nurses, who are among the most experienced and compassionate caregivers in the state.
We all want Kadlec to be the best place to work and receive care. When we stay focused on why we were called to serve in the health care field, we accomplish great things together.
The safety of our caregivers and patients is our highest priority. We do not tolerate any aggression toward members of our staff. We will continue to explore ways with our staff, security team and law enforcement to make sure the procedures we have in place are as effective as possible.
We look forward to making continued progress toward a new contract agreement, keeping in mind our shared mission of providing safe, compassionate care to our patients and community.
The union representative says WSNA is holding a rally to keep Kadlec nurses and patients safe a week from Friday.
He says letters to the hospital's owners at Providence Healthcare are also encouraged here: Tell Providence CEO Hochman: Put Nurse, Patient Safety Over Profits.