Any discussion of problems at Oregon State Hospital should include the topic of mandatory overtime. It is both an indicator of funding problems and a source of deteriorating care.
Mandatory overtime occurs when the daily staffing needs exceed the number of staff scheduled plus those who volunteer to work overtime. Staff on duty are told at the end of their eight hour shift that the they are required to stay for another eight hours. There is no option. The impact of this on staff alertness, productivity, vigilance and, ultimately, patient care, morale and employment longevity is immense. Consider this common scenario: An employee has completed a 2PM to 11PM shift in one of the most dangerous workplaces in the state. Then, instead of going home and sleeping, she must stay on the job through the night fully alert and vigilant, until 6:30AM. Having been awake for a full 24 hours straight, she can then race home, try to sleep a few hours during the morning, and get up in time to be at work at 2PM for another eight hours. By the end of that shift she will have worked 24 hours out of the last 32. Any chores, tasks, relationships at home are essentially abandoned for the 2 to 3 days it takes to recover from the equivalent of severe jet lag.
This is a common event. The amount of mandatory overtime has increased dramatically over the last three years. Staffing is in a downward spiral where vacancies cannot be filled faster than they occur. Staff are, on average, less experienced and more poorly trained than they have been for many years. Consider that, in a time of very high unemployment there continue to be many vacancies. This raw fact speaks directly to the working conditions.
Here are the number of hours of mandatory overtime worked, by quarter:
Richard Yates (retired following 30 years of employment at OSH)
posted 3 years, 1 month ago
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