Oregon Nurses Association push back on $90M cancer center over staffing concerns

The Oregon Nurses Association is raising concerns about St. Charles Health System's plans to build a $90 million cancer center in Redmond, citing staffing shortages and financial issues, KTVZ reported Jan. 25.

More than 40 percent of patients at Bend, Ore.-based St. Charles Cancer Center travel from Redmond and other rural areas. Some travel more than 50 miles to receive treatment, according to the report.

The nurses association questions if there will be enough staff to man the new facility, which is set to open in 2025.

"Investing in buildings is fairly short-sighted," ONA Communications Manager Kevin Mealy told KTVZ. "What we want to invest in is the bedside. That's where care actually happens. That's where people get healthy and home safely. We can't meet those basic needs if it becomes a frivolous expense that does more than put the cart before the horse. It raises serious questions about St. Charles' priorities, both in the short and long term."

However, the hospital says the cancer center would help struggling rural patients.

"An issue for some of our patients is that the distance, the inconvenience is overwhelming for them," Linyee Chang, MD, medical director of the Bend facility, told KTVZ. "So some of our patients, unfortunately, choose not to have cancer treatments."

St. Charles secured the funds through bonds in fall 2020, which can only be used for construction, according to the report.

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