Nurses hope to increase safety at Eastern State Hospital - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Nurses hope to increase safety at Eastern State Hospital

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SPOKANE, Wash. -  Nearly 50 nurses gathered outside the regional office of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Wednesday to bring attention to problems they believe need to be fixed.

Sharon Silar, a nurse at the hospital, told KHQ "What I do feel and other nurses feel is that it's not a safe environment for patients or staff anymore, so that's why we are here." 

Nurses told KHQ that understaffing and budget cuts over the years have lead to a dangerous environment. 

Silar says she's seen patients attack each other, and even had patients assault staff members -- something that happened to her last year. 

"It was pretty traumatic for the two of us," Silar says. "What I do know is we were short. If we would've been meeting her needs throughout the day, I don't think it would've let to this"

After surgery and a long recovery, Silar is about to return to work for the first time -- but it won't be easy. 

"We're all worried. We do the best we can and I believe nurses are breaking their backs trying to give quality care," Silar says. "It takes a lot for a nurse to speak up. We're just trying to be proactive and say we need help."

KHQ asked a hospital spokesman if he thought it was understaffed. He wouldn't comment because it's part of an ongoing negotiation with staff members, but he did say the safety of staff and patients is the top priority. 

John Wiley from the DSHS told KHQ "Over the years we've developed safety improvements, but it's an ongoing issue for us at the hospital." 

Silar told KHQ the nurses work with some of the most vulnerable people in the state, and she thinks mental health needs to be a priority.

As far as getting more money from the state, Wiley said that's something Washington's legislature will have to consider.
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