St. Charles Health System enacted crisis standards of care to all four of their locations two weeks ago after severe staffing shortages and mass layoffs. The state has already told Central Oregon’s largest health provider that it can’t do that.
Julie Bostrom, a nurse at St. Charles, says remaining healthcare workers often work over 12-hour shifts with no time for breaks.
“Data and the research has shown for years that nurses that go without their breaks, without their lunches, we know that patient care can suffer.”
Declaring crisis allows hospitals to avoid having to comply with rules that govern nursing staffing levels.
“The one-two punch of being understaffed and overcapacity means we continue to assess the need to alter nurse staffing plans,” said St. Charles spokesperson Lisa Goodman.
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Hospitals in other states declared crisis at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when they could not accommodate the overwhelming number of patients.
St. Charles rescinded the move just six days after it was announced after Oregon Health Authority officials informed them the hospital didn’t meet the requirement, and that they could be violating state law.
“I’m surprised if they truly were breaking the law that they made that choice, and it concerns me,” Bostrom said.
Staffing at the hospital may be running thin, but Bostrom wants everyone to know that nurses are still there for them.
“We are still there to do the best that we can do. we are still there to care of the patients. We are still 100% committed to do the very best job we can do.”
Goodman says that St. Charles is here to continue caring for the community, but patients may notice that emergency department wait times are longer than usual.