As this paper has been made aware through previous letters to the editor, Providence Alaska Medical Center nurses are in continued negotiations with administration. This has been going on for roughly four months, and has progressed minimally. This week, the union is meeting with administrators with the assistance of a mediator due to a lack of flexibility to meet requests from the union representation of the PAMC nurses to improve patient safety by improving the ability to retain experienced nurses.
Most Alaskans are aware that Providence is the only medical facility in the state that manages to provide many complex medical treatments and procedures. The ability of Providence to retain experienced nurses over the past few years is practically nonexistent due to the staff feeling like their efforts to provide the best patient care means less than the increasingly importance of profits at this “nonprofit” organization. Staff has already had the ability to donate paid time off revoked, along with continued proposals of forced PTO cash-outs at a measly percentage. This has caused undue duress for nurses who have been out due to prolonged illness or injury, and nurses who had intended to retire in the near future. This is just one instance of how Providence has demonstrated that the bottom line is about the dollar and not about supporting the needs of their staff and the patients.
Throughout the pandemic nurses were on the front line, and in Alaska it was nowhere more so than at PAMC. These staff members put not only their own health and lives at risk, but also of their families and loved ones. Administrators have posted signs around stating “heroes work here” and offered letters of praise to staff, but when it’s time for action, they are insulting and hindering nurses from being able to do their job to their abilities. They make nurses feel guilt or fear when they are not able to get their breaks or when they speak out against unsafe practices. We need the public’s support in demanding that Providence meet demands that improve retention of experienced nurses, and therefore the improved care and treatment of you or your loved one when next you need these nurses.
— Britney Robinson, RN
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