Oregon Nurses Assn.
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News Releases
Oregon Nurses Association President Lynda Pond, RN
Oregon Nurses Association President Lynda Pond, RN
OR NURSES: UNPRECEDENTED COVID-19 CASES REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ACTION (Photo) - 01/06/22

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Jan. 6, 2022 – The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) calls upon state leaders and hospital administrators to take immediate action in the face of the growing omicron variant surge which is swiftly overwhelming Oregon’s hospital systems.

“We knew it was going to be bad and it is,” said Lynda Pond, RN, President of the ONA Board of Directors. “Hesitation, delays and failures to act are endangering lives and threatening our patients and frontline health care workers across the state. Action must be taken now to avert the worst possible outcomes of this surge.”

ONA calls on state leaders and hospital administrators to take the following actions immediately to protect Oregonians, slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure frontline nurses and health care workers are able to care for all patients during Oregon's largest projected coronavirus surge: 

  • Implement N-95 mask requirements for frontline health care workers in facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. Maintain N-95 mask or equivalent requirements until effective testing, treatment and mitigations steps can be taken.
     
  • Reinforce occupational health teams to conduct internal hospital testing, perform exposure notifications, lead internal surveillance and oversee other rapid COVID-19 interventions. 
     
  • Limit hospital visitors and ensure health care facilities have sufficient support staff to screen visitors, check vaccination status and provide adequate masks. 
     
  • Significantly expand COVID-19 testing, reporting and exposure notifications across the state to ensure health care workers and the public can access COVID-19 tests quickly and easily. 
     
  • Add frontline nurses, health care workers and staff to hospital emergency response committees so operational decisions include nurses’ expertise and real-time information.
     
  • Increase mental health supports for frontline nurses and caregivers including investing in employee assistance programs, offering caregivers mental health days and expanding access to specialized mental health counseling for nurses through the Oregon Wellness Program. 
     
  • Retain Oregon’s best, experienced nurses and caregivers by investing in retention bonuses and critical shift incentives. These crucial measures help properly recognize and value experienced frontline nurses and caregivers are being asked to jeopardize their own health and safety to care for sick Oregonians while being given inadequate resources and support.
     
  • Devote additional state support to investigate OSHA workplace safety complaints filed by nurses and caregivers.

These actions are critical to combat omicron’s exponential spread and avoid the worst-case projections, which could leave many Oregonians without access to adequate medical care. 

ONA calls on every Oregon health care system to staff up now and to listen to and support the frontline nurses and health care workers who keep our health system running. Oregonians can’t wait any longer for state leaders and hospital administrators to act. 

In addition to the immediate actions state leaders and hospital administrators must take, ONA nurses also ask all Oregonians to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster as soon as possible, mask up indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces, avoid large gatherings, stay home if you are sick, and get tested if you are concerned. 

Find information on COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and testing here: https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19 

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state. Our mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

Oregon Nurses Association
Oregon Nurses Association
COVID-19 Testing Delays Leave OHSU Patients and Workers Waiting (Photo) - 01/03/22

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE OREGON NURSES ASSOCIATION (ONA): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FOjhbf3_LPwO1r67rgL-GUQo0imlkQ0m?usp=sharing 

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Jan. 3, 2022 – More than 100 cars waited in line this morning outside OHSU’s drive-up COVID-19 testing site for workers. The backlog led to lines of cars leading out of the parking lot where tests are done and onto hospital access roads—delaying patients’ access to health care services. 

“As an ER nurse, I’m worried people won’t have efficient access to the emergency department,” said Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) member Julie Jorgensen, an emergency department nurse at OHSU. “OHSU’s campus is difficult to navigate on the best of days. We’ve started the omicron surge and hospitals need to be better prepared to test and treat health care workers and patients quickly.” 

ONA nurses have repeatedly called on OHSU to increase access to COVID-19 testing in advance of the omicron surge, including during a COVID-19 task force meeting last week where nurses asked for additional staff to assist with COVID-19 testing, exposure tracking and other occupational health support. 

OHSU’s own COVID-19 projections show more Oregonians will need hospital care for COVID-19 in January 2022 than at any other time in the pandemic—further straining understaffed nurses and health care workers and hindering Oregonians’ access to many types of health care treatments.   

ONA encourages OHSU and other health care systems to staff up, listen to and support frontline health care workers. We also ask all Oregonians who are eligible to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster, mask up indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces, stay home if you are sick and get tested if you are concerned. 

Find information on COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and testing here: https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19 

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The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state including more than 3,000 nurses at OHSU. Our mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.
 

Attached Media Files: Oregon Nurses Association
Health Care Workers at Risk as OSHA's COVID-19 Safety Rules Expire - 12/30/21

(TUALATIN, Ore.) - The news that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has failed to adopt a permanent standard to protect health care workers during COVID-19 is extremely disappointing. OSHA's health care emergency temporary standard (ETS)--which OSHA recently allowed to expire--was designed to protect frontline health care workers who faced extreme COVID-19 risks in hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and other health care facilities. The ETS provided essential safety rules for workers and employers, including regulations around infection prevention protocols, exposure notifications, disease education, personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, and support for health care workers who contract COVID-19 at work.

Health care workers--and in particular frontline nurses--are experiencing unprecedented levels of physical and mental fatigue. They do not feel valued, protected or supported by their employers. In fact, frontline nurses are leaving the profession at a rate that has never been seen before. OSHA's failure to extend COVID-19 safety protections will only exacerbate our country's nurse staffing crisis.

Health care workers in Oregon are fortunate to have a state COVID-19 safety standard through Oregon OSHA which holds companies accountable to several common sense precautions. Oregon nurses believe every health care worker in the nation deserves these same permanent safety protections.

Unfortunately, Oregon OSHA's safety standard fails to provide paid time off when frontline health care workers contract COVID-19 at work. Nurses across the state are being denied benefits by hospitals and health care companies who claim COVID-19 infection did not occur in the workplace. These blanket denials place an impossible burden of proof on frontline caregivers and ignore the risks of ongoing patient exposures. The federal ETS remedied this problem and offered additional protections to frontline health care workers who have faithfully served our communities during this pandemic. It is abundantly clear that companies will not do the right thing unless compelled to. Federal OSHA's failure to extend safety measures gives health care corporations permission to continue devaluing nurses and other caregivers. 

Nearly two years into this pandemic health care workers are still without any federal law, rule, or standard that protects them from economic harm if they become infected with COVID-19. Considering OSHA’s failure to support and protect healthcare workers, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is calling on the Governor, Oregon OSHA and health care companies to honor frontline health care workers' commitment by unconditionally providing sick leave and other medical removal benefits to frontline workers when they contract COVID-19.  

“We can't allow safety standards to disappear while COVID-19 cases skyrocket. Frontline health care workers who contract COVID-19 while caring for sick patients deserve companies' full protection and support," said ONA spokesperson Kevin Mealy. "Every Oregonian needs permanent job protections that are responsive to the crises we're facing.”

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The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state. Our mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.