State nurses union urges members to get vaccinated; blasts hospitals

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The Oregon Nurses Association union is calling on all its members to get vaccinated by the state-imposed deadline of October 18th – and calling out hospitals for a staffing crisis “years in the making.”

“Our patients and our communities need you at the bedside, now more than ever before,” according to a statement released Thursday. “The science is clear: vaccinations are safe and effective, and nurses and other health care workers who are vaccinated are acting in line with our ethical, clinical, and professional responsibilities to our patients.”

Alternatively, the ONA asks members to fill out the necessary paperwork for a medical or deeply held religious belief exemption.

“Failure to do so may result in the termination of unvaccinated nurses at a time when Oregon faces an unprecedented staffing crisis,” according to the statement.

The ONA represents about 15,000 nurses and health care workers across the state.

State inks deal with healthcare staffing companies; help coming to St. Charles

Oregon’s hospitals are in crisis mode as COVID cases surge, leaving staff overworked and exhausted.

The Oregon National Guard has been brought in to help and on Wednesday the state entered into agreements with private health care staffing companies for additional assistance.

OHA’s statement places the blame on the current situation on the hospitals themselves.

“At a time when nurses, and our state’s health care system, are at the breaking point, we must stand united in the face of historic failures on the part of hospitals to ensure safe staffing,” the statement said. “All nurses know that this staffing crisis has been years in the making; the COVID-19 pandemic has simply pushed those failures into the spotlight. This current level of crisis was created by hospitals who have failed to invest in their nursing staff, failed to recruit and retain experienced nurses, placed a greater focus on profitability than patient outcomes, and have done so at the expense of nurses.”

The union’s full statement is below:

Tualatin, Ore. – The Oregon Nurses Association Board of Directors unanimously approved the following statement regarding Governor Brown’s recent rule change implementing mandatory vaccinations for health care workers in the state:

“The question of whether or not health care workers should be required to get vaccinated has been answered: mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 for nurses and other health care workers are now the law in Oregon.

ONA calls upon all nurses to get vaccinated before the October 18th deadline or, alternatively, fill out the necessary paperwork for a medical or deeply held religious belief exemption. Failure to do so may result in the termination of unvaccinated nurses at a time when Oregon faces an unprecedented staffing crisis.

Our patients and our communities need you at the bedside, now more than ever before. The science is clear: vaccinations are safe and effective, and nurses and other health care workers who are vaccinated are acting in line with our ethical, clinical, and professional responsibilities to our patients.

To all nurses in Oregon who can, ONA says ‘get vaccinated.’

ONA will continue to fight tirelessly for our members at the bargaining table on the impacts of this new mandatory vaccination requirement.  That includes fighting to ensure you are provided appropriate levels of PPE, paid time off for adverse effects of the vaccination, more (and more substantial) retention and hazard pay, pushing hard for safe staffing, and more.

At a time when nurses, and our state’s health care system, are at the breaking point, we must stand united in the face of historic failures on the part of hospitals to ensure safe staffing. All nurses know that this staffing crisis has been years in the making; the COVID-19 pandemic has simply pushed those failures into the spotlight.

This current level of crisis was created by hospitals who have failed to invest in their nursing staff, failed to recruit and retain experienced nurses, placed a greater focus on profitability than patient outcomes, and have done so at the expense of nurses.

We have so much work to do for our patients, and for each other. We have so many more issues that unite us than we do that divide us; safe staffing, nurse recruitment and retention, increasing the number of future nurses, increased pay for nursing faculty, iron-clad protections against violence in the workplace, ensuring rest and meal breaks, improving working conditions and wages; these must be our focus now.”

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