Health care is a concern of our readers, including increasing treatments offered by nurse practioners

I'm a direct support provider for people with disabilities. Our work is publicly funded. I've worked as a caregiver for 15 years, and every position has poor pay and high turnover. Some residents require 1:1 care, which is often not possible due to constant short staffing. It puts us all at risk.

I could work in data analysis for three times my current pay, but my heart's in this work. I've helped an autistic boy gain confidence to speak about his hopes and dreams. I've helped a shy young woman explore her home city. I've taught clients to cook, use the library, and cope with the world they live in. I've had one 40-cent raise since 2012. I know I'm worth more. I am again looking at my options. How do I make a few dollars more and still do what I love? 

I'm a member of Oregon CareWorks, which is fighting to improve quality at group homes, require transparency so we know where public money is going, and to give people like my clients more choices. HB 2684 and HB 2685 would address these issues and are a good first step for Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Jennie Wright-Sharp

Northwest Portland

Expanding care through nurse practitioners

As Oregon struggles to rein in health costs while providing effective care, one group of health providers continues to lower hospital readmission rates, improve outcomes, and reduce costs for patients and the system: nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners provide comprehensive care including health promotion and disease prevention, perform procedures, and manage chronic health conditions. In fact, nurse practitioners have quietly revolutionized Oregonians' health care by promoting patient-centered philosophies we now recognize as essential to health care.

Despite practicing independently for more than 40 years, Oregon's nurse practitioners are still prevented from exercising the full extent of their abilities and training. For example, while vasectomies are within our scope of practice, Oregon statute prevents nurse practitioners from performing them. Thankfully, the Oregon Legislature can remove this arbitrary prohibition by passing House Bill 2103, allowing trained nurse practitioners to perform this important procedure.

Oregon's nurse practitioners already perform more complicated procedures than vasectomies, e.g., circumcisions, chest tube placements, colposcopies, biopsies, laceration repairs, and more. And research shows our care is as effective — and more cost-efficient — than physician care. Just as importantly, nurse practitioner patients express greater satisfaction with care, due in part to a patient-centered approach.

In a time of mushrooming costs disproportionately affecting Oregonians without resources, House Bill 2103 helps ensure timely, safe, and effective vasectomy access by proven champions of health care for all: nurse practitioners.

Diane N. Solomon

Chair, Independent Practice and Business Owners

Oregon Nurses Association and Nurse Practitioners of Oregon Member

Southwest Portland

Contract Publishing

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