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Oregon Bill Aims to Fix Understaffing at Hospitals

By Eric Tegethoff, Producer | Public News Service

Hospital staff members are struggling under the strain of patient overload and they want Oregon lawmakers to do something about it.

A measure in Salem would create nurse-to-patient ratios so they and other medical staff have a fixed number of patients they are caring for.

Aaron Green is a Certified Nursing Assistant at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center. He said he’s had more than 35 patients to tend to at one time, creating potential safety issues.

“It’s important to me that everyone gets the best care,” said Green. “And the way to do that is to get the staffing ratios so that our loved ones, your loved ones, you, whoever comes in here knows they’re going to get the best care possible.”

Oregon hospitals have voiced their opposition to the legislation. The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems called it a one-sized solution for a more complex problem.

The measure, House Bill 2697, is scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday.

Green said understaffing is straining workers in every part of the hospital – noting that when there aren’t enough housekeeping workers, that can make it hard to get patients into beds.

“We really need to represent all the staff in the hospital,” said Green, “because we’re all part of providing the best patient care and outcomes.”

Green added that staffing issues were an issue before the pandemic but they have gotten worse since.

He said long, stressful hours have burned out many workers, driving some of them out of the profession.



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