Oregon nurses talk staffing crisis at Springfield conference

Nurses across the state gathered at the Hilton Garden in Springfield to discuss possible solutions to staffing issues.

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 6:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The Oregon Nurses Association held a conference Friday about staffing issues in Oregon’s hospitals.

Nurses across the state gathered at the Hilton Garden in Springfield to discuss possible solutions. Kevyn Paul, a PeaceHealth nurse, said there is a law already in the books, but the issue is how each side is interpreting it.


"The problem with the law is implementing it, management thinks it says one thing and nursing thinks it says another thing," Paul said.

Nurses at the conference said hospitals have been slow to comply with the law. Section four, sub section-e of the law has been the hardest to implement because of acuity.

Acuity is similar to the process of triage during an emergency situation. According to the law, if two patients have a similar illness like the flu, the person with the most severe case should have priority. However, that is not always that case at some hospitals.

Last month, the Oregon Health Authority released a report that found PeaceHealth’s RiverBend Hospital violated the acuity section of the law. The investigation found the nurse's assignment sheet only had room numbers and did not include intensity or acuity information about patients.

In response, PeaceHealth said in a statement to KEZI: "PeaceHealth is in the process of evaluating software solutions for patient classification/acuity systems to support added visibility to varying levels of patient care requirements, nursing skill mix and patient assignments. These solutions ultimately will allow us to move away from the current paper documentation system.”

Paul Van Waardenburg, a nurse at RiverBend Hospital, said both sides are working together to solve the problem.

“The two sides are meeting, and we're making the changes. It needs to be faster, and that’s why we're coming out in droves to help support our patients,” Waardenburg said.

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