BEND, OR -- St. Charles Medical Center officials say they have submitted a "plan of correction" to the state in response to a recent Oregon Health Authority report that found hundreds of staffing violations. They say the investigation was conducted as part of the hospital's standard three-year survey from OHA, and was partially based on a complaint.
Registered Nurse Julie Ostrom is St. Charles Bend’s Nursing Director of Patient Flow. She wasn’t surprised by the Oregon Health Authority’s findings and says most of the violations were clerical in nature. "The largest areas that we have to do work on, we are already doing the work. So, our response to the state is to articulate to them in writing what we’re doing and how we’re going to monitor the progress, and then to demonstrate to them ongoing that we’re improving."
She says during the Oregon Health Authority’s investigation, the hospital was already addressing the “Buddy System” practice, which SCMC officials say can temporarily increase the number of patients a nurse cares for, while another nurse takes a mandated break. "There wasn’t anything in that report that pointed to an immediate safety issue where our patients are truly at risk. We have an obligation to protect our nurses from fatigue and ensure that they’re getting the breaks that not only they’re entitled to, but we want them to have for their own wellbeing. But, those problems are long-standing and we have a lot of work going on around them." She tells KBND News, "What we lacked when the state was here was a clear, articulated plan for how and when it’s appropriate to use the Buddy System. It is a strategy that we use to cover meal and rest breaks when the patient-care scenarios are appropriate to combine nurses’ assignments."
Ostrom says the vast majority of the needed corrections relate to administrative issues with the hospital’s staffing committee. "The requirements around the committee are fairly new. This version of the law was passed last year, with the administrative rules in effect in January; so we’re learning as we go. So, the bulk of our plan of correction is responding to how we’re going to clean up that documentation and, really, committee function process."
She says administrators want to work with nurses and the union to create a collaborative response to the concerns raised in the recent report.