SEATTLE -- A three-day strike by thousands of nurses, staff members and other caregivers has closed two hospital emergency departments in the Seattle area.
The workers at Swedish Medical Center began picketing in a heavy rain Tuesday morning, wearing clear plastic ponchos and carrying purple signs that said “Patients Before Profits.”
They list low staffing levels as their primary concern, saying it puts patients at risk.
"We want to give extraordinary care and caring and we need the tools and the personnel to do that," said Swedish nurse Terry Thompson. "Sometimes I get home and I don't think I did the best I could given the time I had, and the amount of patients I had to see."
The hospital says it is committed to patient care and has made a generous contract offer.
Swedish has closed two of its seven emergency rooms during the strike. The Ballard and Redmond locations are scheduled to reopen Friday morning at 8 a.m.
Ballard's labor and delivery unit also closed on Saturday in preparation for the walkouts.
The health provider has brought in replacement workers to make sure its remaining emergency rooms can function properly. Swedish spent $11 million to do that.