Lunchtime visitors to the Puyallup MultiCare Urgent Care Clinic on Feb. 25, likely will be surprised to encounter members of The Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) participating in a informational picket.

According to The Stand, a service of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions, a key issue among those considering participating in the picket is a lack of an effective closing policy to limit patients from entering clinics just prior to closing.

Complainants said this can result in providers working up 16 hours each day — some days without breaks. Furthermore, they could see 60 to 70 patients per shift versus the normal busy patient load of 30 to 35 patients per shift. According to UAPD, an overworked provider can place patients at risk and also leads to severe burnout among its members.

“We, as physicians and advanced practitioner providers, have been negotiating with MultiCare Health System to reach a contract that will serve our community,” UAPD member Jocelyn Devita said in a statement. “Our Urgent Cares were the first to serve the patients since 1995 in Pierce and King counties and we have done our best to deliver quality care for 24 years. We want to continue to do so, but we must care for patients in a safe manner.”

The Puyallup clinic is not the only MultiCare facility planning a picket, nurses and staff at the MultiCare Auburn Medical Center are slated to hold an informational picket on Thursday, Feb. 21 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will be followed by a community rally at 5 p.m.

According to The Stand, caregivers will be informing patients and neighbors about staffing shortages, high turnover, and unfair wages that make it difficult to recruit and retain qualified staff.

“There’s been a disturbing trend in healthcare, where corporations are sponsoring sports teams and pouring money into branding while neglecting caregivers and risking patient care,” stated Caroline Bellinger, a nurse at MultiCare Auburn. “That’s what is happening at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. Management is making the outside of the buildings pretty while inside we’re struggling with startling turnover rates, calls to pick up extra shifts due to short staffing, and low wages. It’s time MultiCare Auburn Medical Center comes to the table and addresses the concerns and proposed solutions to the job crisis at Auburn. The people, our patients, deserve the best from their community hospital.”

In response to the planned informational pickets, MultiCare issued the following statement: “Thousands of MultiCare employees are represented by unions, and we strive to have a strong and collaborative relationship with those groups who share our goals of taking care of the patients we serve. The happiness and well-being of our MultiCare team members are top priorities for us, and we work hard to listen to and collaborate with our employees.”

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Thumbnail image courtesy Pexels.