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Astria Health employees picket in front of hospital for better pay, staffing

Astria Health employees picket in front of hospital for better pay, staffing

YAKIMA, Wash.- Astria Health nurses and healthcare workers marched in front of the hospital to let everyone know they need more people working inside.

The hospital has been negotiating with the employee's union for months now, but those out in the street Tuesday said it's time to invest in patient care.

“When they come in, they expect us to be pretty quick with stuff, but if we don't have safe staffing or the staff we need then it takes a little bit longer than it should,” X-ray technician Tina Morrison said.

Workers said they need better contracts and pay to help keep employees around for the long haul.

They said the lack of personnel causes departments all over the hospital to be backed up.

Which increases wait times for almost anyone looking to get help inside.

Astria Health declined an interview but said in a statement “Astria Regional Medical center respects our employees’ right to communicate their position in our ongoing negotiations... We will continue to bargain in good faith."

Those who have been at Astria for years said they’ve seen the number of hires go down while more people are looking for work elsewhere.

“It has become more prevalent that people can find better paying jobs in other locations. We not able to retain like we used to be able to and we're certainly not able to replace like we were able to,” nurse extender John Procopio said.

Which is a problem for a city that already has a shortage of medical professionals and has to airlift people to other parts of the state for care.

Procopio works in the emergency room and said the facility hasn't gotten any smaller, but they can't help as many people as they did 20 years ago.

“This facility used to be able to staff 120-140 patients easily and we had the staff on hand to take care of them. Currently, it's almost impossible to take care of 60. We lack the staff,” he said.

Employees said this is the only picket they have planned so far, but hope both sides can come to an agreement in the near future.

Those out picketing today say they were their breaks and before or after their shifts to make sure they weren't negatively affecting the hospital.

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