Oregon Nurses Assoc. responds to Gov. Brown’s RSV executive order

SALEM, Ore. – On Monday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order to address the state’s rising number of pediatric RSV hospitalizations. Now, the Oregon Nurses Association is responding.

RSV, also referred to as “respiratory syncytial virus,” causes cold-like symptoms in children and adults. However, it can cause severe illness in vulnerable populations, such as young kids. The governor’s office estimates the rate of pediatric RSV cases in the state has more than tripled in recent months.

On Monday, Governor Kate Brown used her executive authority in response to the state’s surge of respiratory virus infections. The order will reportedly give hospitals the flexibility to add more beds for children and allow them to draw on a pool of volunteer nurses and doctors to care for pediatric patients.

“Oregon’s nurses, doctors, and hospital staff are deeply committed to caring for our children, and I’m grateful for all the work they are doing under difficult circumstances to help our kids,” Governor Brown said. “As the country faces a surge in pediatric RSV cases, we want to make sure Oregon’s hospitals have access to the tools they need to provide care for sick kids. For parents, please know you can take steps to reduce the risk of RSV, including practicing the good health and hygiene habits we’ve learned over the past few years.”

After Governor Brown announced the order, the Oregon Nurses Association reacted with a statement saying the state’s healthcare system is already strained with additional pressure from the three-year-long COVID-19 pandemic. And while the ONA reportedly supports the governor’s executive order, they’re disappointed with state agencies who weren’t more “proactive” in “mitigating this emergency.”

The ONA said in part, “It is unreasonable to, yet again, expect frontline nurses and other caregivers to respond to this crisis without additional support from hospitals. ONA calls upon all health systems to immediately implement measures to decrease their census, including delaying all elective surgeries. Hospitals must also incentivize nurses who agree to work the extra shifts that are needed to meet this crisis and relieve nurses of all non-nursing duties by providing more support through ancillary and administrative staff. These measures are critical to allow nurses to meet our patients’ needs.”

The ONA urged all Oregonians to “take all steps necessary to protect themselves, and their children, from exposure to RSV, COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.”

The nurses association added, “Get your flu shot. Get your COVID-19 booster. Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Keep your children home if they are sick.”

A copy of the Governor’s executive order, Executive Order 22-23, is available here.

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