The Oregon Health Authority released a report Thursday detailing how St. Charles Hospital in Bend violated its own staffing rules.
The state agency conducted an investigation in response to a complaint from the Oregon Nurses Association earlier this year. A key finding in the investigation was that the hospital did not provide enough nurses to cover for one another during breaks. That means that sometimes, nurses were caring for twice the number of patients that they should have been.
“This report proves once and for all that when hospitals ignore nurses’ input, patient care suffers,” said John Nangle, who chairs the Oregon Nurses Association bargaining unit at St. Charles Bend. “St. Charles needs to reevaluate every aspect of its operations and bring staffing and patient care up to Oregon’s standards. It’s not just the law, it’s also the right thing to do.”
The investigation highlighted a number of clerical and record-keeping violations at the hospital. In response to the report, St. Charles submitted a plan detailing how the hospital would address staffing violations.
“We’re really expecting that nurses plan at the beginning of their shift when they’re going to take their breaks, that we actually have a schedule,” said Julie Ostrom, nursing director of patient flow for the Saint Charles Health System.
The hospital also pointed out that the state report did not find evidence that patients faced any unsafe conditions.
Nangle said that’s not the point. “The law is predicated on developing staffing plans that are safe for patient care, and they aren’t meant to be violated, whether that’s for a break or meal.”
This is the third complaint about St. Charles Bend submitted to the state by the Oregon Nurses Association since 2015.