Sierra Little SM

My name is Sierra Little. I am a Regis­tered Nurse at Provi­dence Sacred Heart Medical Center and I have worked the entirety of my nursing career (a short three and a half years) on 7 North’s Medical/​Surgical Pulmonology unit. Our 35-bed unit is the truest testa­ment to the positive impact manage­ment can make on its employees. We are proudly home to some of the finest leaders across the entire organi­za­tion. They empower each of us to speak our minds freely and openly, take account­ability, hold ourselves to the highest level of excel­lence in bedside care and to treat one another with the utmost respect. Our manage­ment on 7 North exempli­fies Providence’s core values.

Being a new nurse gives me a unique perspec­tive on this year’s bargaining that senior staff might not share due to their many years of disap­point­ment with upper management’s influ­ence at the bargaining table. That is the perspec­tive of profound hope. I BELIEVE IN PROVI­DENCE TO MY CORE. Not because Provi­dence is controlled by wealthy admin­is­tra­tors whose moral compasses I largely question, but rather because the Heart of Provi­dence belongs to those who provide the care to our patients. 

That’s right, Providence Sacred Heart belongs to us: the 4,000+ employees and 400+ volunteers that dedicate our precious time away from family and loved ones to give of ourselves endlessly during a vulnerable individual’s most desperate time of need. WE are Providence and WE will stand together through this bargaining disaster, no matter the outcome.

That’s right, Provi­dence Sacred Heart belongs to us: the 4,000+ employees and 400+ volun­teers that dedicate our precious time away from family and loved ones to give of ourselves endlessly during a vulner­able individual’s most desperate time of need. WE are Provi­dence and WE will stand together through this bargaining disaster, no matter the outcome.

Over the course of my short career I have watched seasoned nurses who I deeply admire and aspire to grow under, dedicate themselves to this facility and this organi­za­tion, only to be left feeling taken advan­tage of, robbed of dignity and downright disre­spected. The promise of compas­sion, dignity, justice, excel­lence and integrity overflows in their bedside care, yet those core values have proven completely absent from admin­is­tra­tion in what they tell themselves is good-faith bargaining.” You want to propose 65% of our pay when we fall ill or injured? Or steal from our precious PTO needed for family vacations, mental health breaks and self-better­ment? I can under­stand with your upper-level salary how 65% seems like quite the chunk of change to live on, but I speak confi­dently for the majority when I say that we could not make ends meet if we were to be reimbursed 65% or less of our pay for an entire season of illness or injury. These seasons hit all too often. Admin­is­tra­tion needs to face the fact that we care daily for morbidly obese patients, aggres­sive and impul­sive psychi­atric patients (waiting an eternity for proper resources), and unknow­ingly come into contact with conta­gious individ­uals who were pushed out of the ED as fast as patient place­ment will allow.

We are not greedy employees complaining and asking for loftier benefits or hefty bonuses. All we are asking for is to keep what we have in place. We don’t enter each negoti­a­tion with a list of demands, but rather the gut-wrenching question of what will they take from us this time?” That reality is the saddest of all.

We don’t enter each negotiation with a list of demands, but rather the gut-wrenching question of “what will they take from us this time?” That reality is the saddest of all.

Shame on you Provi­dence admin­is­tra­tion. Shame on you for investing so much time in a mission state­ment specif­i­cally aimed to attract the most selfless, eager and intel­li­gent of staff, only to constantly rob us of our benefits and offer contract proposals that require additional sacri­fices beyond those we all chose with this profes­sion, including weekends and holidays away from our loved ones. You have let us down in ways that I believe have perma­nently skewed our ability to trust or respect hospital admin­is­tra­tors.

But know this: You have chosen to rival with a force of men and women who are resilient by nature. The very fabric of our being is indestruc­tible because that is what nurses are called to be. We have been cussed out and spit on, endure being showered in every invol­un­tary bodily fluid eruption, dodge flying food or plates from a bedside table, attempt to navigate the minefield between us and our patient’s needs, and still choose to re-enter that room to meet the physical, emotional and spiri­tual needs of our patients because we are called to do so.

We are the shoulder to cry on for the unexpected goodbye, standing vigil for the best and worst news possible, and the light at the end of the tunnel on days of sheer defeat. We are there for the first steps with therapy, the first cry out of a newborn baby or the last shaky breath. We are the first face seen after of a life-changing surgery and the hand to squeeze through the excru­ci­ating dressing change. We are every­thing we need to be for our patient in that moment and will continue to be because that’s who we are. The rock that weathers any storm.

I wish you would have thought about us, your team, your foot soldiers, the people who give Provi­dence Sacred Heart the reputa­tion of the place to go for the best care,” before you chose to offer a slap-in-the-face short term disability plan and an insulting alter­na­tive to our current plans. You have tried to break the Heart of Provi­dence and we will not be shaken. We will rise and respond the only way we know how to when we have been confronted with a challenge — standing strong and standing together. 

We will rise and respond the only way we know how to when we have been confronted with a challenge - standing strong and standing together.

Nurses of Provi­dence, do not let the actions of our admin­is­tra­tors shame the name of Provi­dence as a whole. They are not the heart of this insti­tu­tion — we are. While their proposals could not be more contrasting to our mission state­ment and core values, we have the oppor­tu­nity to remind them who they work for and what we stand for by demanding justice. Together we hold the power to prove who Provi­dence truly is at its core, reflecting the values we each held within ourselves long before our calling led us to Providence’s doorstep.