A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Stress, long hours are ‘almost not worth it’

From the Salem Statesman Journal, May 24, 2010

It’s been a rough year for Sharon Mangan.

“I wake up at night, dreaming about this place,” she said, “and the day before I go back to work, I start going downhill, just thinking about having to go back.”

As a front-line staffer in Oregon State Hospital’s crowded forensic program, Mangan has become stressed out by patient-caused violence.

“I didn’t realize my co-workers were going to be torn apart in front of my eyes,” she said, recounting incidents in which staff members were kicked in the head, punched, spit on and battered.

In the past few weeks, Mangan twice has been assaulted herself.

She now is thinking about quitting but doesn’t know where to turn for stable employment.

“There are no jobs out there,” she said. “If you’ve got a job, you’re damn lucky.”

A former painting contractor, Mangan opted to pursue a new career when the recession hit. In her 50s, she became a certified nursing assistant. Her hospital employment started in April 2009.

“This is what I was going to do until I retired,” she said. “It was stable.”

But the steady job has turned into a nerve-wracking ordeal.

Like many front-line workers, Mangan resents the hospital’s growing reliance on mandatory overtime to run the facility.

Surging reliance on “mandates” has been fueled by a variety of factors, ranging from understaffing to intensive staff monitoring of violent patients and state furlough days ordered for all state workers, including people who work at institutions that remain open 24/7.

“I’m falling apart,” she said. “It’s almost not worth it.”

Click here to read the next story in the series.

Related articles and documents from the Salem Statesman Journal.

Oregon State Hospital and SEIU Fact Finding Report
Calvin Patterson Outrage E-mails
Oregon State Hospital Salaries and Vacancies Database
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: State hospital jobs prove challenging
Interactive Oregon State Hospital Timeline
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Stress, long hours are ‘almost not worth it’
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: OSH chief medical officer proud to be leading change
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: For psychiatrist, mending broken lives is a motivation
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Business analyst helps site adapt to new technology
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: Mandated misery at Oregon State Hospital
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: State hospital’s mandatory overtime soars in past year
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: Worries about state hospital persist for Senate president
All items for this series are archived at Rebuilding an Institution: Oregon State Hospital