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MultiCare Indigo doctors strike for patient safety over profits

Credit: Marisa Powell, UAPD Staff
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By Kathleen Cancio ·

While families across the country prepare for a different kind of Thanksgiving this year due to a surging pandemic, doctors and members of The Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) will go on strike on Nov. 23 and 24. They are protesting dangerous working conditions that threaten patient safety at MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care facilities throughout Washington state and for retaliation against union members who have spoken out and demanded to negotiate over these critical health and safety issues.

Despite winning recognition with UAPD in August 2019, MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care has since failed to negotiate in good faith with providers over key safety issues such as breaks and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to UAPD President, Dr. Stuart Bussey, providers are subjected to working 12-plus hour shifts, which can sometimes lead to seeing over 70 patients in a single day without any breaks. Since MultiCare Indigo does not enforce a cutoff time for walk-ins, providers must often work beyond their scheduled shifts in order to make sure every patient that arrives prior to closing time is seen.

MultiCare Indigo’s strategy to get providers to see as many patients as possible not only hurts doctors who are struggling to keep up and feel overworked, but also jeopardizes patient quality of care and attention they might otherwise receive.

And despite Washington Labor and Industries (L&I) and the CDC’s guidelines that emphasize the importance of wearing masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19, MultiCare Indigo has prohibited doctors from wearing N95 masks and even denied their attempts to bring their own PPE.

In response to a complaint filed regarding lack of adequate respiratory protection for MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care employees who are conducting patient testing for COVID 19, L&I stated, “in accordance with CDC guidance, employers must ensure that health care personnel collecting specimens use recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes an N95 or higher level respirator, eye protection, gloves, and a gown, when collecting specimens.” 

The bizarre decision to force health care workers to go against universal safety protocols in the middle of a pandemic puts doctors and patients at an especially heightened risk of contracting the deadly virus.

UAPD members are hopeful that this week’s strike will pressure MultiCare Indigo to resolve unfair labor practices including union retaliation against outspoken members, and to put patient safety over profits and protect already vulnerable front-line providers working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

To join the nearest picket line or sign the online petition to demand MultiCare ensure its Indigo Urgent Care clinics across Washington provide safe work conditions for employees and patients, visit unitedforpatients.com.

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