Portland Jwj stands with providence Nurses

Letter to Providence:

January 29, 2021

Dear Jennifer Burrows, Oregon Regional Chief Nursing Officer, Providence Health & Services in Oregon:

We are members of the Portland Area Workers’ Rights Board.  We represent a broad spectrum of political, faith, academic, legal, and community leaders, all of whom are committed to fighting for community labor standards that respect the dignity of all workers. 

In this regard, we have grown ever more concerned about the unwillingness of Providence Health & Services to respect the safety of its own employees, in this case its nurses. This is especially alarming given the role that nurses play as frontline workers during this pandemic. 

We have read articles in local newspapers, heard stories on local media, and spoken directly to Providence nurses working throughout the state and staff of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), and it is clear to us that Providence is failing to provide its nurses with safe working conditions, putting both them and those they serve at great risk.  Moreover, unlike other health providers like Kaiser and OHSU, Providence remains a regional outlier in its unwillingness to meet and actively work with nurses from the Oregon Nurses Association to implement their COVID-19 Bill of Rights.

Providence Health & Services has failed to provide nurses with needed personal protective devices.  In the case of masks, for example, many nurses have been forced to wear ones inappropriately sized or heavily worn from repeated use.  It has also failed to ensure timely testing of nurses to determine whether they have been infected, through their work with patients and other staff, with the coronavirus.  It has failed to adequately compensate nurses who must take time away from work because of possible or actual infection. It has ignored the enormous emotional and physical costs suffered by nurses from overwork, inadequate safety standards, and ever changing policy pronouncements.  And, by refusing to sign an agreement which guarantees these critical protections, Providence is robbing nurses of the certainty and stability which comes with an enforceable union contract. 

Providence nurses, in demanding that Providence work with them to ensure the availability of personal protective equipment, safe staffing practices, guaranteed access to rapid point-of-care testing and consistent notification of exposures or possible exposures, appropriate time off and workers compensation for Covid-19 exposure, and respect for nurse input and accountability, are only asking Providence Health & Services to take the pandemic seriously and act appropriately.   

The coronavirus case load continues to rise throughout the state.  We call on Providence administrators to sit down now with representatives from ONA and sign an agreement to implement nurses’ COVID-19 Bill of Rights.  Nurses and their patients desperately need these protections.  If an agreement is not signed within one week, which should be more than enough time to make the right choice, we are committed to organizing a major community forum at which nurses and patients can tell their stories, and share their concerns and frustrations with Providence.  And we will do our best to ensure that local and state media, political and business leaders, and concerned Oregonians are appropriately educated about Providence’s intransigence during this time of pandemic crisis.  

Sincerely, 

Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor, Rethinking Schools

Johanna Brenner, Professor of Sociology/ WGSS Emerita, Portland State University

Senator Michael Dembrow, Oregon Senate District 23

Barbara Dudley, Oregon Working Families Party, Senior Policy Advisor

Veronica Dujon, Professor of Sociology, Portland State University

Ranfis Giannettino Villatoro, Community Organizer, Blue Green Alliance

Avel Louise Gordly, Former Oregon State Senator

Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Lewis and Clark College

Catherine Highet, Highet Law, LLC

Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, Multnomah County 

Maura Kelly, Portland State University

Mary C. King, Professor of Economics Emerita, Portland State University

Rev. Mark Knutson, Augustana Lutheran Church 

Msgr. Chuck Lienert, Priest of the Archdiocese of Portland

Nikki Mandell, Professor of History Emerita, University of Wisconsin- Whitewater

Commissioner Sharon Meieran, MD, JD, Multnomah County 

Rev. Jack Mosbrucker, Archdiocese of Portland, Retired 

Huy Ong, Executive Director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

Dr. José Padín, Portland State University

Verna Porter, retired RN, Alliance for Retired Americans

The Rev. Cecil Charles Prescod, Ainsworth United Church of Christ

Former Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum

The Reverend Dr. Patricia Ross, United Church of Christ, Retired 

The Reverend Eugene Ross, United Church of Christ, Retired

Rev. John Schwiebert, Metanoia Peace Community, United Methodist Church

Rev. Lynne Smouse López, Ainsworth United Church of Christ

Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Multnomah County

Dr. David L. Wheeler, American Baptist theologian, Eastern University

Chris Wold, Professor of Law, Lewis & Clark Law School

Rev. Connie Yost, President, Farm Worker Ministry Northwest

Fr. Dave Zeger, St. Andrew Catholic Church

CC:

Lisa Vance, Chief Executive Officer, Providence Health & Services Oregon

Dan Mueller,  Senior Labor & Employment Counsel, Providence Health & Services Oregon

Lynda Pond, President, Oregon Nurses Association

Sarah Laslett, Executive Director, Oregon Nurses Association 

Tom Doyle, General Counsel, Oregon Nurses Association

Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  February 1. 2021

Contact: Dr. Veronica Dujon

Workers’ Rights Board Chair

(503) 280-1412

(DujonV@pdx.edu)

PORTLAND-AREA WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD CALLS ON PROVIDENCE HEALTH & SERVICES IN OREGON TO NEGOTIATE COVID PROTECTIONS FOR NURSES

Providence remains a regional outlier in its unwillingness to meet and actively work with nurses from the Oregon Nurses Association to implement their COVID-19 Bill of Rights.

PORTLAND, OREGON. February 1, 2021- The Portland Area Workers’ Rights Board represents a broad spectrum of political, faith, academic, legal, and community leaders, all of whom are committed to fighting for community labor standards that respect the dignity of all workers. After reading a stream of media stories and hearing alarming testimony from nurses it is clear to us that Providence is failing to provide its nurses with safe working conditions, putting both them and those they serve at great risk. 

The Workers’ Rights Board has sent a letter to Chief Nursing Officer of Providence Health and Systems, Jennifer Burrows, calling on Providence administrators to immediately sit down with representatives from the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) and sign an agreement to implement nurses’ COVID-19 Bill of Rights. The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) represents more than 4,000 nurses working at Providence’s Oregon health care facilities and more than 15,000 Oregon nurses and health care workers.

Providence nurses, in demanding that Providence work with them to ensure the availability of personal protective equipment, safe staffing practices, guaranteed access to rapid point-of-care testing and consistent notification of exposures or possible exposures, appropriate time off and workers compensation for Covid-19 exposure, and respect for nurse input and accountability, are only asking Providence Health & Services to take the pandemic seriously and act appropriately. As it is, Providence is a regional outlier, refusing to do what other health providers like Kaiser and OHSU have already done. 

Veronica Dujon, a Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Workers’ Rights Board said:  “As Workers’ Rights Board members we’re hoping Providence will honor its own mission and values of compassion, justice and integrity and care for their frontline caregivers who risk their lives on our behalf. An agreement is in the best interest of  our wider community, not only for Providence nurses.”

“We are incredibly grateful our community stands with Oregon’s nurses. Hearing leaders from all walks of life speak up for strong COVID-19 safety standards says volumes about our community’s priorities,” said Oregon Nurses Association President Lynda Pond, RNC. “Without COVID-19 safety standards, nurses are walking a tightrope without a net. Providence needs to support nurses to prove it cares about caregivers and our community. It’s time for Providence to pick up a pen and sign a COVID-19 safety agreement to protect Oregon’s nurses, patients and our communities.”

If Providence does not sign an agreement with ONA within one week, the Workers’ Rights Board is committed to organizing a major community forum at which nurses and patients can publicly tell their stories, and share their concerns and frustrations.  We will do our best to ensure that local and state media, political and business leaders, and concerned Oregonians are appropriately educated about Providence’s intransigence during this time of pandemic crisis.  

###

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: