Nurses Seeking Law; Construction to Impede Upon Refuge; Boil Notice Still On; King Tides

Nurses Seeking Law

Oregon nurses say they’re struggling under high patient loads and they want state lawmakers to do something about it. The Oregon Nurses Association is backing a “safe staffing” bill this session which would set minimums for the number of nurses in particular units of the hospital. There would be no more than three patients per nurse in the emergency department, for example. Paige Spence with the Oregon Nurses Association says this will help nurses and patients.

“Higher staffing levels are associated with a reduction in medication errors, ulcers, need for restraints, lower rates of infection and lower rates of pneumonia. And the most important is the decrease of mortality when there is safer staffing levels.”

Spence notes that nurses are leaving the profession in high numbers. According to an Oregon Center for Nursing analysis, the profession ranked seventh out of more than four-hundred-thirty occupations for most open positions in 2021. However, the industry is pushing back on this legislation. The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems calls it a one-sized solution for a more complex problem.  Spence says a 2015 law established nurse staffing committees to come up with plans that set in place minimum numbers for nurses in different departments. But those standards haven’t been enforced, which is why she believes they need to be made law.

“So no matter what else happens in the creation or enforcement of that staffing plan, the nurse has certainty and therefore a patient has certainty in the level of their care that a nurse will not have too many patients.”

Spence says the bill would require the Oregon Health Authority to enforce staffing plans and open up the ability for nurses to file civil suits if the plans aren’t followed. It also would set up staffing committee structures for other workers in the hospital, such as technicians and respiratory therapists.

Construction to Impede Upon Refuge

A seven mile stretch of Oregon Highway 126 between West Eugene and Veneta is under consideration for widening from two lanes, with narrow shoulders, to four lanes with ample space for disabled vehicles to get out of the roadway.  Much of the section under consideration runs alongside Fern Ridge and would take up a small, still undeveloped portion, of Lane County’s Perkins Penninsula Park.  Molly Cary is the Oregon Department of Transportation project manager.  She says it will also take a very small piece of the Fern Ridge Wildlife Refuge.

“The wildlife refuge is huge.  We just need a tiny percentage of that.  It’s not a piece that is, in environmental parlance, what we would call significant.”

Because of the location, ODOT must conduct an “environmental study”.  Cary said part of that includes comment from the public on the proposal no later than January 31st..  That can be given online from the ODOT website.  It’s a lengthy web address.  It accompanies this story on our website.

Boil Notice Still On

The water is flowing in Mapleton but the “boil” notice is still in effect until final testing is completed.  Joe Rochon, the maintenance supervisor for the Mapleton Water District, said they identified and repaired two leaks that totaled 90-thousand gallons a day in the 70-year old system.  Rochon says they need the final ok from state health officials before they can lift the boil notice for the 268 customers on the system.  He hopes that will be completed before the weekend.

King Tides

Flooding in low-lying areas along the Oregon Coast could happen during high tides this weekend.  The final King Tides of the season are expected over a three day period beginning Friday.  During a King Tide, water levels can be a half-foot or more higher than the highest daily tide average.  The midday high tides Friday, Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be at, or above 8-feet.  In contrast, the accompanying low tides those days could be up to minus 1.5 feet.  King Tides can occur two to three times each year, usually when the alignment of the sun and moon combine to pull on Earth’s oceans.  Officials say beach hazards are possible this weekend, especially during high tides so visitors should use caution.