Hospitalists Seek Union Representation to Improve Patient Care at Skagit Valley and Cascade Valley Hospitals

Doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants working as hospitalists at Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital have filed for union representation with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD).

“Our community has been growing in population and we are seeing and caring for higher volumes of more medically complex patients without expansion in nursing care or specialty services to help offset care demands,” a hospitalist said. “This is leading to less time with the sickest of patients, decreasing time to educate and explain treatment needs and resulting in a system backlog trying to get patients to the appropriate level of care.”

The hospitalist further explained that they have had to expand the number of providers to keep up with demand. Yet the administration frequently reduces the number of providers on service to save costs—resulting in the hospitalists providing care for 18 to 20 patients, sometimes more, each day. 

“Unfortunately, with the state of healthcare today, for healthcare systems to increase profits, the quality of patient care often decreases,” said Stuart Bussey, MD, JD, UAPD President. “This focus on the bottom line has created a situation where clinicians are forced to choose between meeting unrealistic patient quotas or providing the level of care patients expect and require.”

The Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission is expected to rule on the filing in the upcoming weeks. If a union is voted in, the bargaining unit will consist of 40 hospitalists, physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, with the UAPD as their representative to negotiate workplace issues such as patient volumes, wages, benefits, and more.