While Governor Brown’s stay-at-home order remains in place in Oregon, SEIU 49 members who work on the frontlines at hospitals have continued to report to work, making personal sacrifices to save lives and keep patients and hospitals safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But how well are employers protecting hospital workers? According to our latest research, some Oregon health systems may not be adequately protecting frontline healthcare workers, many of whom bear disproportionate risks from the pandemic due to racial and economic inequities.
The COVID-19 Hospital Scorecard
The COVID-19 Hospital Scorecard examined and scored hospitals based on five measures that assess whether employers have put increased protections in place to help safeguard the health and economic security from the perspective of frontline workers.
We examined health systems in the Portland and Eugene areas, and found that employers may not be adequately supporting healthcare workers, with low scores on the following:
- Paid leave above and beyond regularly accrued leave, including time required to be off work while waiting for COVID test results or having to quarantine due lack of available testing
- Childcare assistance for every worker, including those who experience unpredictable scheduling
- Essential pay for workers actively in a COVID-19 unit, increasing wages by $5 per hour
- COVID-19 testing and treatment costs covered entirely by employers for workers, their family members and any loved ones living in the home
- Job security for workers, postponing layoffs, mandatory furloughs and involuntary cuts on workers’ hours
We found that Providence Health & Services—Oregon’s largest private employer and the second largest employer in the Portland metro region—is among employers that workers feel are not adequately safeguarding them and their families from loss of income, increased expenses related to childcare and unpredictable scheduling, and the cost of healthcare.
McKenzie Willamette Medical Center and local PeaceHealth hospitals were also among those examined in the Scorecard, earning nearly failing scores from SEIU 49 members across all five protection measures.
“I learned my patient tested positive, and it confirmed that I had been exposed to the virus. Then I came down with symptoms. I couldn’t get a test, so I had no choice but to self-quarantine for two weeks and wait until my symptoms were gone. I was worried that I had contracted the virus and then on top of it, I had to carry the stress of not knowing how I was going to pay my bills. My co-workers and I come to the hospital every day and risk our lives so we can take care of our patients. It’s inexcusable that our employers whose entire mission is caring for the health of people and communities is not taking care of us.”
-Aaron Green, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at McKenzie Willamette Medical Center
The Scorecard shows that hospital employers in Portland are covering all of the costs associated with testing and treatment for workers and their families who may have contracted the virus. This is a step in the right direction, but more can be done to protect all essential workers.
Our Scorecard based on the experiences of healthcare workers, rates hospitals in the region on what they are doing to protect those on the frontlines.