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OHSU response to Oregon wildfires

Last updated Wednesday, Sept. 16
evergreen tree skyline of a forest on fire, with an orange glow and purple, smoky sky
(Getty Images)

Last updated Wednesday, Sept. 16

Oregon Health & Science University has activated an Emergency Operations Center and is working with emergency management officials, state and local public health authorities and other hospitals and health systems in the region to actively monitor and manage wildfire impacts, including air quality in our buildings.

Emergency departments and clinics across OHSU’s Health — which includes OHSU, Adventist Health and Hillsboro Medical Center (formerly Tuality Community Hospital) — have seen a slight increase in patients experiencing breathing difficulties. These cases may continue to increase over the coming days, or even weeks, until conditions improve. The health system is also prepared to accommodate and treat a surge of displaced patients with health issues resulting from the wildfires and the novel coronavirus.

OHSU’s COVID-19 EOC remains active, and all OHSU COVID-19 policies and procedures remain in effect to help contain virus spread and protect the employees, learners, patients and visitors. 

A number of resources are available for OHSU employees and learners, including: housing options for evacuees, options for time away from work, a Fire Hardship Fund which will provide monetary grants to employee families who have been evacuated or displaced, and multiple other wellness tools and resources. Our employee assistance program is available to help members work through challenges, including access to evacuation shelters, temporary housing, food and other basic needs, or places where livestock can be safely moved.

Hospital air quality
Building air filters and indoor air quality are monitored regularly, and all systems are working as designed to keep out harmful particles.

These systems work using several levels of filtration to eliminate the majority of particulates from the outside air. As a result, the use of N-95 masks are not required inside OHSU facilities to protect from impacts of poor outdoor air quality. Hospital guidance regarding the utilization of personal protective equipment, including N-95 masks, in response to COVID-19 is unchanged.

Although this filtration process is effective in limiting harmful particles, the smell of smoke may still be noticeable within OHSU buildings.

Temporary reduction of some elective surgeries
To ensure adequate hospital capacity, as well as necessary physical distancing due to COVID-19, OHSU is temporarily reducing elective surgeries. Some scheduled procedures may be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date. Patients impacted will be notified directly by their clinician’s office.

Mobile COVID-19 testing sites
To ensure the safety of staff and community members, OHSU has temporarily closed its outdoor mobile testing sites until outdoor air quality improves. Re-opening information will be posted here, as available. Individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms or questions about COVID-19 should contact their provider. Those asked by a health care provider to obtain a test prior to an appointment, procedure or surgery, should contact the clinic that scheduled their appointment.  

Patient resources

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