PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Nearly a month after nurses at Providence St. Vincent voted to strike, two more Portland-area hospitals voted to authorize a strike Thursday night.
Nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center voted nearly unanimously to authorize strikes against both hospitals – citing unfair labor practices and below market compensation.

With these new authorizations, more than 2,000 nurses have now voted to strike against Providence — the state’s largest healthcare system.

While hospital officials called the news a disappointment, they told KOIN 6 News they have a plan in place should nurses choose to walk.

Having experienced burnout and high turnover rates amid the pandemic, nurses say they are asking Providence for increased nurse staffing, affordable health care, and a fair compensation package to help recruit and retain more nurses.

But Providence Milwaukie nurse Emmy Glasser says her vote to strike was out of concern for the safety of her patients.

“Striking is our last resort. But us as nurses, we’re not settling for substandard patient care, patient safety,” Glasser said. “This isn’t just about us being compensated. This is about having proper safety, proper supplies, proper staffing, so that we can provide our patients the best care possible. And that’s why we are striking.”

But leaders at both hospitals say they are confident in Providence’s level of patient care and safety.

“There are unpredictable occasions and issues in any facility, not just the Providence Milwaukie, but I can tell you is I have full confidence in our team that we have a team approach to everything that we do,” Victor Carrasco, chief executive of Providence Milwaukie Hospital said.

As negotiations continue with the Oregon Nurses Association, Providence says they do not plan to close either hospital and are hopeful a resolution can be made before a strike occurs.

But should nurses choose to walk they say they have a comprehensive plan in place, including hiring temporary staff to ensure patients receive the same quality of care.

“That continuity of care will be there. You know, I’ll be it. We may have to redo some services or perhaps reschedule some cases that are elective things like that. But we don’t want to be in a position where we stopped services,” Carrasco said.

As bargaining sessions are expected to continue throughout the next few weeks, if a strike does occur ONA would have to grant each hospital a 10 day notice before nurses could walk out on the job.