Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

MultiCare urgent care doctors on strike for two days across Western Washington

A medical worker at the Indigo Bothell Clinic.
Kristen Zwiers
A medical worker at the Indigo Bothell Clinic.

Citing unsafe working conditions, doctors at 20 Indigo Urgent Care clinics across Western Washington are striking.

The two-day strike at the clinics, which are operated by MultiCare Health System, is scheduled to end Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Dr. Amir Atabeygi, who works at an Indigo clinic in Thurston County, says his and other clinics are seeing a high volume of patients who have COVID-19 symptoms and who are coming in for testing.

He says one of the reasons he’s on the picket line is that MultiCare won’t supply staff in these clinics with N-95 masks.

"You go on the CDC and they say if you treat a patient who's suspected of COVID, you should wear an N-95,” Atabeygi said. “If we can't take care of take care of ourselves then how are we going to take care of the patient?" 

MultiCare is supplying Indigo clinics with gloves, gowns, surgical masks and face shields.

"We listen to science,” said Dr. Mark Mariani, the head of retail health at MultiCare. “We follow the CDC and we work with our infection prevention experts and medical directors in those spaces to make the right decisions. "

According to the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, the labor group that represents the doctors, MultiCare wants these Indigo clinics to be “the Starbucks of retail health,” and that wearing N-95 masks ruins the Indigo experience. 

MultiCare says that's completely false, and that the safety of patients and staff comes first.

The union has been negotiating a contract with MultiCare for over a year now.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.