United for Safety at Cascade
The nurses and healthcare workers of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 at Cascade Behavioral Health in Tukwila care for some of the most vulnerable psychiatric and chemical dependency patients in our community. But instead of prioritizing safe patient care or treating workers with respect, Cascade parent company Acadia has fostered an abnormally unsafe work environment, with severe understaffing, decrepit facilities, a shocking lack of COVID-19 protections, and no security for staff and patients.
Donate to Our Strike Solidarity Fund
Your generous donation will help allay the financial hardship some healthcare workers could experience due to days off of work during the strike.
Poor Safety Practices Put Patients and Healthcare Workers at Risk
Unsafe Working Conditions
Cascade’s failure to invest in security, combined with the Tukwila police department’s decision not to come into the hospital due to recent legal changes, has created a dangerous environment where workers and patients lack protection.
On August 1, after an incident of preventable workplace violence injured several workers, and threatened the safety of numerous patients, nurses and other healthcare workers at Cascade felt they had no choice but to go on a safety strike until Cascade provides security.
Lack of COVID-19 Protections
As of this week, three patients and two housekeepers have tested positive for COVID-19. Last fall a Cascade coworker died of COVID-19 but Cascade Hospital continues to operate with dangerously deficient COVID-19 safety protocols.
A Washington State Department of Health investigation found that Cascade was not providing workers with adequate PPE, had deficiencies in providing cleaning materials, and inaccessible COVID-19 safety policies and protocols.
Workers have documented broken ceilings, sewage leaks, and broken doors not replaced properly, all of which create unsafe conditions for patients and staff, and increase the opportunity for patient elopement.
Inadequate staffing makes it extremely difficult to provide the care their patients deserve and to prevent harm. Many of Cascade’s patients are involuntary, and without sufficient staff, the workforce cannot ensure that patients safely remain in the hospital without harming themselves or others.
Our Meeting With U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh
Secretary Marty Walsh held a listening session with our coworkers at Cascade Behavioral Health Hospital in Tukwila on Aug. 13. We shared how the abnormally unsafe working conditions in our workplace impact us and our patients. We are grateful that Secretary Walsh took the time to hear our concerns, and we feel ready to continue our fight to make Cascade a safe place to work and receive care.
Tell Cascade Behavioral Hospital: It’s time to put patient and worker safety over corporate profits
Our community won’t stand for a for-profit corporation like Acadia abusing workers and putting the safety of patients and the community at risk. We’re demanding that Cascade Behavioral Health management settle a fair union contract and fully address the unsafe conditions in the hospital.
A for-Profit Model That Hurts Patients, Workers and Our Community
From Public Dollars To Private Profits
Cascade parent company Acadia is a for-profit corporation whose primary purpose is to maximize profit, yet the primary source of Cascade’s and Acadia’s revenue is taxpayer-funded Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements – but it is only accountable to its shareholders, not to the public.
In 2019, Cascade parent company Acadia was found guilty of Medicaid fraud. In a settlement reached with the Department of Justice, Acadia paid $17 million to the United States and $2.2 million to the state of West Virginia–the largest fraud settlement in West Virginia’s history at that time.
Acadia Can Afford to Staff Cascade Safely
Acadia’s healthy balance sheet from end of year 2020 includes $2 billion in operating revenue, $183 million in operating profit, $378 million in cash and cash equivalents and $6.4 billion in net assets. For the first quarter of 2021, Acadia reported a net income to Acadia stockholders of $9.7 million and for the second quarter of 2021 net income was $44.5 million.
Updates From the Picket Line
Media advisory for Thursday, September 2, 2021: Nurses and healthcare workers on safety strike at Cascade Behavioral Health are marking the start of their second month on the strike line with a rally for safe patient care. Rally speakers will include elected officials, labor leaders and other prominent community supporters.
We were joined by State Sen. Joe Nguyen; State Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley; and Nikkita Oliver, Candidate for Seattle City Council. Thank you for your support, advocacy and for adding your voice to the call: Cascade Safety Matters!
Must watch: Coverge Media’s coverage of our actions for safety at Cascade, featuring frontline nurses and healthcare workers, and an update from King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, who joined our picket line this week.
We held an informational picket and rally to show Cascade management and Acadia administration that our community stands with healthcare workers. In a powerful day of action. We stood together and spoke in one united voice to tell Cascade Behavioral Health management that Cascade Safety Matters!