Swedish Offers Additional Updates on Services Provided During Strike

January 27, 2020

Swedish leaders assured the community today that the not-for-profit health care provider is focused on providing safe care for its patients during the three-day strike called by SEIU 1199NW. However, there will be some temporary adjustments to operations during this period to ensure the care it provides continues to meet the highest standards.

“Safe patient care is our number one priority,” said Dr. Guy Hudson, CEO, Swedish Health Services. “As it has for 110 years, Swedish will continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care to patients and their families, even during the strike.”

SEIU is planning to hold a strike at all Swedish campuses starting at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, January 28, and ending at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, January 31.

Swedish will keep its doors open throughout the strike and has contracted with temporary staffing agencies to bring in qualified, experienced replacement caregivers. It is also adjusting operations to ensure patients receive safe, high-quality care. This includes the following temporary closures:

  • Ballard Emergency Department will close at 7 p.m. today and reopen at 8 a.m. on Friday.
  • Redmond Emergency Department will close at 7 p.m. today and reopen at 8 a.m. on Friday.
  • Ballard Labor and Delivery is currently closed and will reopen at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Our five other emergency departments (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Issaquah, Edmonds and Mill Creek) will remain open during the strike. Individuals with life-threatening and urgent medical needs should go to one of Swedish’s open emergency departments for care or another local/regional emergency center.

In addition to these temporary closures, Swedish is consolidating services on all campuses as needed.

Swedish is making every effort to provide patients and the public information about its service changes. We are connecting with patients who have appointments this week that need to be rescheduled. Additional communications channels include:

  • Signage at our facilities
  • A message to the community in the Seattle Times tomorrow
  • Regular updates on the Swedish website – Swedish.org – and our social media channels
  • Communication to our partner organizations in the community, including personal calls to homeless shelters and others who serve our most vulnerable populations
  • Fliers provided to nearby businesses and organizations with information about temporary closures

Despite the challenges, Swedish is well-prepared for the strike. An interdisciplinary team of clinicians and operations leads has developed a comprehensive plan to manage through the strike while ensuring Swedish continues to provide safe care. Clinical leadership has taken an active role in the planning process. In addition, we have been in discussions with the Washington State Hospital Association and health care organizations throughout the region to ensure coordination of services. We have also been in close contact with the Northwest Healthcare Response Network to help communicate with Emergency Medical Services across the region in preparation for closure of the Ballard and Redmond Emergency Department closures.

Swedish will have staff posted outside the Ballard and Redmond emergency departments that are temporarily closed to provide instruction and support to any patient in need of care. Swedish has arranged for an ambulance to be on standby at those locations to transport any patients who may need emergency care to another emergency department.

Swedish has been negotiating with SEIU over new labor agreements for represented caregivers for more than nine months. During this process, the Swedish bargaining team has been working diligently to avert a strike and reach agreements at the bargaining table both sides can support.

“While we respect our caregivers’ rights, we are disappointed the union has chosen this action,” said Dr. Hudson. “Swedish has put forward a strong wages and benefits package at the bargaining table. In fact, these are the best benefits provided by any health care organization in the region.”

More information about the bargaining process and a summary of the latest comprehensive package of proposals Swedish offered in January is available on our Labor Negotiation News webpage.