Nursing home workers, operators to cooperate

After collecting more than 125,000 signatures for a ballot measure that would increase minimum staffing levels at nursing homes in Oregon, the union collecting the signatures decided not to submit them.

Instead, Service Employees Local 503 joined Gov. Ted Kulongoski and representatives of the Oregon Health Care Association at a press conference July 10 to announce the formation of a Nursing Home Patient Safety Commission.

Kulongoski said the commission creates an opportunity for “thoughtful collaboration on how best to provide quality care and safety without a costly ballot measure fight. Patients and their families are the winners here.”

Linda Tolston, a certified nurses’ aide and Local 503 member, said, “We consider this to be a victory and are hopeful that we will be seeing significant improvements in resident care.”

The commission will examine:

  •  The relationship between the quality of care in Oregon nursing facilities and Oregon’s current staffing standards.
  • National comparative data and research about nursing home staffing levels and the quality of patient care.
  • Data on the nursing shortage, both in Oregon and throughout the nation.
  • Information that highlights the unique challenges facing rural facilities in Oregon.

The commission — which will include two members representing Oregon’s skilled nursing facilities, two members representing front-line nursing staff, and two members representing organizations that advocate for seniors — will meet three or four times before presenting a final recommendation to the governor by Sept. 30.