After organizing with the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) for the past year, on Nov. 22 they asked the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election. ONA says more than 131 nurses signed union authorization cards —about three-fourths of the hospital’s roughly 175 nurses.
Situated off Oregon Route 18 across from Chemeketa Community College, Willamette Valley Medical Center is a 60-bed acute-care hospital that includes an emergency room, a birthing center, and a cancer center. It’s also one of just two for-profit hospitals in Oregon.
ONA says safety has dropped dramatically at Willamette Valley since the hospital was acquired by Tennessee-based LifePoint Health last year. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit health industry watchdog group, rated Willamette Valley Medical Center the worst out of 31 Oregon hospitals for safety, giving it a “D” grade in its Fall 2019 report. That’s down from an “A” grade as recently as Spring of 2018.
One of the factors in the report: Not enough qualified nurses.
“We need a strong, collective voice to advocate for our patients and improve safety throughout the hospital,” said Willamette Valley nurse Corey Mertz in a union press statement.