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Enhancing the Health of Veterans through Research and Education

Employee Responsibilities

Rights & Responsibilities

As Portland VA Research Foundation employees, it is our responsibility to protect the confidentiality of all patient information. This responsibility extends to all employees and not only to those who provide actual patient care or maintain medical records. Any patient information, whether overheard, noticed at a copy machine or desk, read during hand-carry, seen in correspondence, etc., must be kept confidential by all employees. Our patients have a legal right to privacy and we, as their caregivers, have a legal and moral responsibility to protect that right. 

We may not discuss patient information with anyone when off-duty. When on-duty, we must refrain from discussing our patients with anyone, including other patients, visitors, and other employees who do not need to know the information in order to carry out their official duties. Increased diligence must be exercised in protecting patient information in cases where patients have sensitive medical conditions where the inappropriate disclosure of information could be medically, psychologically, socially or economically harmful. 

The Privacy Act and other Federal statutes provide penalty and fine provisions for the knowing and willful misuse or disclosure of confidential information to any person or agency that is not entitled to receive it.


Conflicts of Interest

Employees are expected to devote their best efforts, time and attention to the performance of their work duties and are also expected to adhere to high ethical standards, and to avoid situations that create an actual or potential conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists when:

  1. Employees’ loyalties or actions are divided between the interests of PVARF and employees’ own personal interests or outside activities;

  2. Employees’ financial investments or activities adversely affect their ability to carry out their responsibilities to PVARF or its clients.

Employees who are unsure as to whether a certain transaction, activity, or relationship constitutes a conflict of interest should discuss it with the Executive Director, who must approve in writing any exceptions to this policy. Once a potential conflict of interest situation is brought to the attention of the Executive Director, (s) he will consult with an ethics official, which may include VA counsel.


Drug Free Workplace

All employees are hereby notified that it is unlawful to manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess or use any controlled substance in the workplace. Employees will be subject to the Drug Free workplace policies in effect at the research sites in which they are found. A signed acknowledgment may be required. Portland VA Research Foundation employees are expected to comply with all federal, state and local drug laws regardless of location where duties are performed. An employee who violates any of these drug laws during the performance of his or her duties, during work hours, or as a representative of PVARF by or through the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of alcohol or any non-physician prescribed controlled substance on company premises or while conducting Foundation business will be subject to disciplinary actions, which may include legal consequences and/or termination. Employees are also required to abide by all drug/alcohol policies in effect at the research sites in which PVARF employees perform duties


Standards of Conduct and Behavior

At PVARF, standards of conduct and behavior have been established so that employees know what the organization expects of them. These standards outline both expected conduct and conduct which may result in disciplinary action. PVARF reserves the right to take action based on what it deems to be appropriate for any given situation. These standards are not all-inclusive and other conduct not listed may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Action may be taken as a result of either improper conduct or a lack of performance. A lack of performance is the result of a failure to meet expected job performance.

These standards do not form a contract of employment, nor should employees have any expectations that such standards form a contract. Employment at PVARF is “at will” and can be terminated for any reason, with or without cause. The decision as to what action will be taken rests with PVARF managers and is made on a case-by-case basis. PVARF reserves the right to change, alter or eliminate these standards at any time without prior notice to its employees.

Conduct that may require action ranging from a verbal warning up to and including termination:

  • Excessive absenteeism or tardiness

  • Leaving work area or job during working hours without permission

  • Loitering or wasting time in or on VAMC and/or OHSU property during working hours

  • Repeated or excessive violations of time-keeping procedures

  • Possession, distribution or use of illegal drugs or any alcoholic beverages on VAMC and/or OHSU property at any time

  • Possession of weapons on VAMC and/or OHSU premises at any time or while on organization business

  • Harassment/Discrimination

  • Unauthorized use of telephones or property

  • Disregard of safety rules or common safety practices and security procedures and requirements

  • Insubordination

  • Threatening, intimidating, or coercing behavior with employees or supervisor

  • Fraud or theft

  • Willfully endangering employees or property of the organization

  • Abuse, misuse, deliberate destruction or defacing of organization property, tools, equipment, or the property of employees in any manner

  • Gross or willful negligence

  • Falsification of personnel, time and attendance records, or other PVARF records

  • Misuse or removal from the premises, without proper authorization, of employee lists, PVARF records, or confidential information of any nature

  • Three consecutive days of absence from work without prior notice.


Personnel Data Changes

PVARF strives to maintain accurate personnel data and employee status information. As such, the PVARF administrative office is dependent upon employees for reporting changes such as: personal mailing addresses, telephone numbers, emergency contacts, educational accomplishments, and other important status changes.



Portland VA Research (PVARF) considers telecommuting to be a possible alternative work arrangement in cases where individual; job and managerial considerations are best suited to such an arrangement. Telecommuting allows an employee to work at home, on the road, or in a satellite location for all or part of their regular workweek. Working off-site is a voluntary work alternative that may be appropriate for some employees and some jobs as determined by the PVARF management. It is not an entitlement; it is not a PVARF-wide benefit; and it does not change the terms and conditions of “at-will” employment with PVARF. Please contact your manager and the PVARF HR department to discuss the feasibility and telecommuting arrangement.


Clinical Work Performed by PVARF Employees

While PVARF administers clinical research projects, it does not serve as a provider of medical care. All clinical care administered by PVARF employees as part of their duties on clinical research projects must be through the auspices of the Portland VA Medical Center. This coordination is accomplished by:

    • Approval of the clinical protocol by the medical center’s institutional review board and research & development committee.

    • Completion of all necessary credentialing and privileging requirements by the appropriate medical center offices.

    • Coordination of the project’s clinical activities with the clinical units at which the clinical care will be performed (such as outpatient clinic sites, the medical center’s short-stay care unit, or inpatient bed services).

Malpractice coverage for clinical care delivered as part of a research project is provided by the federal tort claims system. If appropriate approval of clinical activities for research projects has not been obtained from the Portland VA Medical Center, then this coverage may not apply. Employees may purchase individual malpractice insurance, but PVARF will not reimburse them for the expense of such policies.

No clinical care of any kind may be provided by a PVARF employee if the recipient of the care is not an enrolled subject in a research project approved by all applicable committees/subcommitteesof the Portland VA Medical Center. If clinical care related to an approved research project will be performed at a location other than the premises of the Portland VA Medical Center, prior approval and appropriate credentialing at the other site must be obtained prior to initiating the clinical care.