PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Nurses Association announced the launch of their new campaign “Safe Staffing Saves Lives.” The aim is to address the root causes of Oregon’s ongoing hospital nurse staffing shortage.

“The situation is dire, and without action, things will only continue to get worse,” said ONA Board President Tami Cline. “Hospital management has had years and years to do something — and nurses have been calling for change for years and years — but hospitals have refused to act. So, yet again, nurses are here to save the day, to be heroes, to find the solution and to take action.”

The ONA is pushing for “Safe Staffing Saves Lives” to be considered during the 2023 Oregon legislative session. The legislation proposes new measures that will institute new minimum safe staffing standards that will require hospitals to adequately staff all units. The bill will also create steeper penalties for hospitals that are out of compliance, up to $10,000 a day.

“Our current nurse staffing law is good legislation that should be working, except for the fact that hospitals consistently and willfully ignore the law and OHA consistently fails to enforce it,” said Matt Calzia, ONA’s Director of Nursing Practice and Professional Development. “This new legislation gives our existing law teeth, and adds new crucial components to address nurse turnover, burnout, and patient outcomes.”

Among those components is the creation of legally required minimum safe staffing standards for all hospitals. One example of this would be one RN for every three non-trauma or non-critical care patients and one nurse to one trauma or critical care patient in an Emergency Department. Another is one nurse for one patient in an Operating Room, or one nurse to four patients in a med-surg unit.

“ONA’s legislation will strengthen our existing hospital nurse staffing law, hold hospitals, and the Oregon Health Authority, accountable, ensure nurses get their legally required rest and meal breaks, and create minimum safe staffing standards for all units and their unique patient populations,” said Paige Spence, ONA’s Director of Government Relations. “In other words, our legislation addresses the roots of Oregon’s hospital nurse staffing crisis.”

Additional information on the “Safe Staffing Saves Lives” campaign can be found on their website.