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Pandemic makes ombudsmen more important than ever; two trainings are set in 2021.

The need for advocates for seniors and others living in long-term care facilities couldn't be more acute than it is during this time of pandemic.

"With vaccines for COVID-19 now being administered, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel," according to a release from the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman, a state agency. "However, Oregonians living in long-term care facilities continue to be isolated while having some of the highest rates of infection and deaths."

To address that issue, the agency says the need to ensure quality of care and quality of life in facilities is crucial and must be taken up by community volunteers who become long-term care ombudsmen.

"Oregon's LTC Ombudsman program has continued to fight every day for residents' rights and dignity and now needs over 100 more volunteers across Oregon for the advocacy that is needed coming out of the pandemic," the release said.

Residents in long-term care facilities in Oregon have suffered from the pandemic at a level greater than the rest of the population, a fact demonstrated by the dozens of deaths at two care facilities in Newberg and McMinnville over the past six months. Those, and most other care facilities, have gone into lockdown mode in response to increased COVID-19 cases, which in some cases has meant quality of care has suffered as a result.

"Residents in care facilities frequently face impossible decisions regarding their care and quality of life," the release said. "If they push their call button and no one comes for 45 minutes, do they report the issue and possibly suffer retaliation? Do they take a deep breath and continue to wait, knowing this problem will continue to be an issue?

"Many residents also feel isolated and alone, especially now due to COVID-19-related limits on visitation with family and friends."

As it stands, about half of the residents of long-term care facilities have an ombudsman who represents them, leaving the others particularly vulnerable to poor care. The state, hoping to address that issue, has scheduled two online ombudsman training sessions this year.

"Our volunteers come from all different walks of life," the release said. "Successful applicants need good communication and listening skills, the ability to work through conflicts, determination, tenacity and a passion for helping people."

For more information on the volunteer program, the online training sessions or to report a concern about a long-term care facility, call Fred Steele at 1-800-522-2602 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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