As an other example of the growing movement for safe staffing levels of nurses and other medial professionals, RN’s across Washington State took part in a Day of Unity.  Their message to citizens of the State is that our State facilities are understaffed and deserve respect for taking care of our communities most vulnerable. The RN’s at Eastern State edical Hospital put themselves at risk everyday of assaults by community members who suffer from mental illness.

As shown in the picture to the right, nurses in Spokane Washington Rallied near downtown.   Most were nurses from Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake.

According to KHQ TV, Sharon Silar, a nurse at the Eastern State Hospital, said “What I do feel and other nurses feel is that it’s not a safe environment for patients or staff anymore, so that’s why we are here.”

Nurses told KHQ that understaffing and budget cuts over the years have lead to a dangerous environment.

Silar says she’s seen patients attack each other, and even had patients assault staff members — something that happened to her last year.

“It was pretty traumatic for the two of us,” Silar says. “What I do know is we were short. If we would’ve been meeting her needs throughout the day, I don’t think it would’ve let to this”

After surgery and a long recovery, Silar is about to return to work for the first time — but it won’t be easy.

Unfortunately, these RN’s face poor staffing due to low levels of recruitment and retention. Public sector RNs wages are below 18%-24% below private and, as a result, staff turnover is above 20%. To add insult to injury, state workers are facing increasing premiums to their healthcare. Along with higher wages and better benefits,  funding for staff training and education is needed to better prepare them to work with populations that are aggressive due to mood disorders and other types of mental illness.

To decrease the number of RN’s being injured due to assaults from patients, safe staffing solutions are needed. In order to retain and recruit quality staff, the STATE needs to address the above issues at the bargaining table to ensure our community stays safe and our most vulnerable are given the care they deserve by qualified medical staff.

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