Nurses association plays hardball with Whidbey General

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In the midst of nurse contract negotiations, the state nurses association is claiming that Whidbey General Hospital is not doing right by its nurses.

The Washington State Department of Health has cited Whidbey General Hospital for not being in compliance with a law created in 2008 intended to ensure that hospitals and nurses work together to develop nurse staffing plans intended to keep patients safe, according to the Washington State Nurses Association.

Whidbey General Hospital staff said that the Department of Health investigation was intended to address a complaint about compliance with nurse staffing committee requirements and that it has been addressed, according hospital spokesperson Patricia Duff.

“Whidbey General Hospital was found to have missed one of the two required annual staffing committee meetings,” according to an email from Duff. “A corrective plan was submitted and accepted by the Department of Health and no further action is required.”

“We are disappointed but, sadly, not surprised that management at Whidbey General is failing to follow the ‘Safe Nurse Staffing’ law,” said Christine Himmelsbach, MN, RN, WSNA assistant executive director of Labor Relations. “Again and again, Whidbey General has failed to meet contractual obligations and even state law as regards to our nurses. There’s not a lot of trust as we work hard to settle a contract for our members.”

According to the WSNA, registered nurses at Whidbey General have “gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions of support from community members” and are planning a community barbecue and rally in support of nurses for early August.

The WSNA also filed an “unfair labor practice” complaint in April, but the allocations have yet to be substantiated.

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