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Nurses rally for safer working conditions

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Friday, nurses with the Oregon Nursing Association held a rally at Providence in Portland to demand safer working conditions.

Those nurses want Providence to implement what they call the COVID Bill of Rights. That bill of rights consists of several measures nurses want guaranteed in the workplace. Those are safe staffing levels, appropriate PPE, pandemic leave, regular access to testing, and prompt exposure notifications.

Nurses at the rally said these should be minimum steps the hospital should be taking to ensure employee and patient safety.

“We’re both long-time Providence employees and we would like Providence to return to its values that it states it holds, which is to protect its people and to protect its patients,” said Jim Steinman, a nurse with Providence who was at the rally with his wife Emily Steinman, who is also a Providence nurse.

“A big part of it is we want to feel like we have safe staffing and adequate personal protective equipment,” Jim said.

Nurses who were at the event also received the support of Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran. Meieran is also an ER doctor.

“I cannot say it strongly enough. We need to stand up for the people who walk in when others are running in the other direction,” she said at the event.

Providence has responded, saying it’s committed to workplace safety. The hospital group says it does offer testing to exposed nurses and that employees do have adequate access to PPE. Providence also said they are trying to alleviate staffing shortages by hiring and training new nurses.

Nurses at the event also spoke out against Providence for providing vaccines to board members and donors.

“It’s not terribly surprising, but it’s unfortunate, because I feel like there could have been a lot of different ways to allocate those doses to more at-risk people in the community,” said Emily Steinman.

Providence says it was a small number of board members who received the vaccine because it was going to go to waste. The hospital says it has made changes to prevent that from happening again.

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