PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems shared the policies it’ll be prioritizing during the state’s 2023 legislative session, to protect health care in Oregon amidst its ongoing staffing shortage.
The Oregon Nurses Association has responded to OAHHS, saying that its legislative agenda offers long-term solutions, but fails to solve the current issues.
OAHHS laid out three goals in its 2023 policy agenda: “Preserve and protect access to quality care, support health care workforce development and retention and stabilize the state’s health care system.”
The nurses association agreed to a few measures suggested by the OAHHS, such as extending tax credits to nurses, including registered and licensed practical nurses in the health care provider incentive, and forming state-funded clinical training incentives. However, ONA said that those policies don’t help with the present-day concerns.
According to ONA, hospitals are at fault for the crisis and have been even since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The nurses association reported that the state’s hospitals prioritized profits and Wall Street investments over solutions that would benefit frontline healthcare workers and their patients.
“From the moment COVID-19 reached Oregon, nurses put their lives on the line to care for the sick patients who flooded our hospitals,” ONA said. “While administrators often worked from the comfort and safety of home, nurses did their best in overflowing ERs and ICUs. Instead of improving working conditions, management threw pizza parties. After nearly three years of constant pressure, trauma and grief, countless health care workers simply could not continue. Our colleagues left the bedside in search of safer working conditions, better pay and more respect.”
The professional association and labor union went on to show its support for Oregon House Bill 2697. HB 2697 works to address the hospital staffing shortage, by establishing minimum staffing rules in addition to other measures.
ONA reports that 27.1% of active nurses resigned from their jobs in 2022. The association has launched its own Safe Staffing Saves Lives campaign to address the workforce difficulties that lead to nurse turnover.
“Passing safe staffing standards is one of the most powerful steps we can take to address Oregon’s worsening hospital staffing crisis and prevent a complete collapse of our state’s health care system,” ONA said. “To see OAHHS ignore this reality in their recent package of legislative priorities is not surprising, but it is still deeply disappointing.”