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Portland-area health systems call for caution ahead of Fourth of July weekend

A joint statement from OHSU Health, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health and Providence Health & Services
Architectural photo of OHSU's Emergency Department drop-off at the front of the hospital building. Building is made of pale stone, with a large glass awning and an exposed glass elevator shaft is above it.
With heavy demand on emergency departments across the region, Portland-area health care leaders are calling on people to exercise caution heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend and to reserve the emergency room for true emergencies. (OHSU/Fritz Liedtke)

With the Fourth of July weekend on the horizon, we are coming together as leaders of Portland-area health care systems to encourage people to do their part to reduce heavy demand on hospital emergency departments.

Kaiser Permanente, OHSU Health, Providence Health & Services and Legacy Health have worked collaboratively to manage through record-breaking heat on top of already-heavy demand that is straining hospital capacity across the region. Our shared goal is to ensure the health and well-being of the communities we serve.

We normally expect high case loads in our emergency departments from the holiday weekend. This year, it will be even more important to exercise caution. That means we are asking people to be careful with fireworks and observe the bans that local agencies have in place, practice water safety, avoid drinking alcohol in the heat, and drink plenty of water.

We are grateful for the emergency medical technicians who worked in extreme heat throughout the weekend and Monday in responding to a record volume of cases – mainly related to people suffering heat-related illness. In many cases, the heat has exacerbated existing underlying health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

At the same time, hospitals are at or near capacity. Although COVID-19 cases have declined overall, we still have many patients with COVID-19 occupying hospital beds. In addition, surgical demand has generally increased as a result of delayed care due to the pandemic.

We are asking everyone to do their part: Check in with primary care providers about your urgent health care needs – or visit the nearest urgent care clinic – and reserve the emergency room for true emergencies.

Hospitals are doing our part to manage heavy demand. Through careful coordinated management of inpatient volume, and evaluating non-urgent surgeries, we will continue to meet the health needs of our region. We have postponed some surgical cases that require an in-patient post-operative hospital stay, and we will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.

We are grateful for the public’s support in staying safe as we come together to celebrate Independence Day.

Please be safe, and thank you for your continued support.


Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A., senior vice president and chief medical officer, OHSU Health

Mary E. Giswold, M.D., FACS, associate medical director, Hospitals and Post-Acute Care, Kaiser Permanente Northwest

Melinda Muller, M.D., interim senior vice president and chief medical officer, Legacy Health

Kevin Olson, M.D., chief clinical and operations officer, Providence Health & Services – Oregon

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