Oregon hospital board blindsided by staffing crisis

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The advisory board for Oregon State Hospital was unaware of the seriousness of a staffing shortage that forced the hospital to ask for help from the National Guard, according to the Salem Reporter.

In May, Oregon State Hospital requested 30 registered nurses from the National Guard to address a staffing shortage at the Salem-based psychiatric facility. The hospital's 16-member advisory board, which advises Oregon Health Authority leaders on care and safety at the facility, learned about the worsening staffing crisis from news outlets and the community.

"As Board members, we are expected to fulfill our charge, which includes making recommendations to the hospital regarding administrative rules, policies, procedures, and hospital protocols related to patients' safety, security, and care," according to the board's June 7 letter to the hospital's superintendent, cited by the Salem Reporter. "We were not allowed to do that in this instance."

A need for workers comes as a third of Oregon State Hospital's nursing staff has been on COVID-19-related leave, according to the report. 

In a statement to the Salem Reporter, Oregon State Hospital spokesperson Rebeka Gipson-King said while the hospital values working with the board, notifying it of all major decisions isn't always possible.

"The Board provides an important oversight role for the hospital, and we continue to partner with them [on] significant hospital issues," Ms. Gipson-King said. "We'll be sure to provide thoughtful, comprehensive responses to all of the questions in their letter."

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