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Watching the many wildfires burning in Oregon over the past week has been terrifying, heartbreaking and exhausting – both physically and emotionally. Like you, I understand the concerns about the hazardous air quality and I’m worried about all those who have been displaced by this horrific natural disaster.

On top of all of that, we are still focusing on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now preparing for our annual flu season. It’s a lot, but I want you to know that St. Charles is here for you and continuing to provide the community with information, resources and the care you need.

The good news, on the COVID-19 front, is that our hospitalization numbers remain low and because we have worked together in our communities to contain the spread of the virus many of our kids are able to return to school sooner than expected. We need to keep this up by continuing to wear masks, wash hands and physically distance. For some of our team’s latest understanding of the COVID-19 virus, please watch this video featuring Dr. Bob Pfister.

Wildfires and smoke

Now that we have wildfires causing people to seek emergency shelter across the state, we are concerned the virus could find new, vulnerable populations in which to spread. It is incredibly important that we do our best to support those in need during this time.

Here are several resources for ways to help put together by the Central Oregon Emergency Information Network:

In addition to these many resources, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems has established a fund to specifically help the more than 100 health care workers in the state who have lost their homes. You can learn more about this effort here.

For those of you concerned about the health effects of exposure to the wildfire smoke, please watch this video featuring Dr. Nathan Ansbaugh, one of our emergency physicians. The main takeaway is to stay indoors if you are at high risk of having lung issues. We are all hoping for clearer skies going into this weekend.

The flu

While many of the things affecting our lives are outside of our control – a pandemic, wildfires and smoke – there is one action we can proactively take to help ourselves over the next few months and it’s actually quite simple.

Please, get your flu shot. 

If you are a person who doesn’t normally think about getting a flu shot, this is the year to make it a priority. You will protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu and you’ll be helping our team at St. Charles by not inundating our hospital beds with flu patients.

Thank you for doing your part to keep all of us as healthy as possible.

Sincerely,

Joe

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