I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy Fourth of July. I hope you have an opportunity over the next few days to celebrate the independent spirit of this great nation of ours.

Perhaps your ideal Fourth includes some grilled burgers and leisure time with loved ones. Maybe you are planning to float the river or hike a favorite trail. However you choose to celebrate this weekend, I want to encourage you to please do so safely and responsibly so you don’t have to come see us at St. Charles. Right now, we are navigating a number of staffing and capacity challenges, and the more people stay safe and stay away from our hospitals, the better.

Here are a few specific things to keep in mind:

Stay cool. If you've been in the Northwest over the past several days, you know we have experienced a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures in Central Oregon exceeding 110 degrees in some places. Over the past five days, our caregivers have seen 19 people who came to St. Charles with a heat-related medical condition.

Temperatures have dropped a bit, but we are still forecasted to be over 90 degrees in the coming days. Please be sure to stay hydrated and take steps to avoid becoming overheated. If you need somewhere to cool off, the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition is operating cooling centers throughout the region, and the Deschutes Public Library has suspended its time limit for visits to its air-conditioned facilities.

Play safe. The weekends around the Fourth of July are some of our busiest when it comes to trauma patients arriving at our Emergency Departments. With locals out recreating and visitors here in huge numbers, more people will get hurt or experience a medical emergency and they will end up at St. Charles.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing: Slow down. Be patient. Be courteous. Wear a helmet if appropriate. Recreate in areas you know well. Follow applicable laws and regulations. Celebrate responsibly. Get home in one piece!

Be smart. As you likely know, we are experiencing a severe drought and conditions are very dry across the High Desert. We have already had a scary fire in Redmond and another in a neighborhood park in Bend. For these reasons, local governments in Bend, Redmond and Deschutes County (so far) have banned the use of fireworks beyond July 4.

I understand the appeal of fireworks. I enjoy them myself. But there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the Fourth of July that do not come with the risk of an accidental fire. Whether they are banned in your area or not, I encourage you to skip the fireworks this year, for your safety and the safety of our communities.

Thanks so much for keeping these things in mind this weekend. Again, I hope you enjoy a safe, fun holiday.



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