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For the past several weeks, I’ve been sending out an email on Mondays detailing St. Charles’ efforts to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and to care for our community through unprecedented times.

If you’d like to read those emails, here’s an archive. And if you’d like to sign up to receive future missives, you can do that here.

My Monday emails tend to be long and full of information, because there is a lot to say. I’ve written about our work to expand COVID-19 testing and our plans to handle a surge of patients. I’ve emphasized the importance of social distancing and urged people to follow Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order. I’ve shared the latest data models and discussed the development of a roadmap for recovery.

I also try to take an opportunity in each email to say “thank you” to whoever’s reading for whatever role that particular person has played in the fight against this dangerous new virus, whether they're working face-to-face with patients, ringing up groceries at the supermarket or simply staying home and helping to flatten the curve.

Here, though, I want to take a moment to be more specific with my gratitude. There certainly is enough to go around.

Thank you to our partner agencies, both locally and at the state and federal levels, with a special kudos to health officials in Warm Springs and at Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, who have capably pursued the important work of identifying COVID-19 cases, conducting contact investigations and providing valuable guidance for our communities. And to the firefighters, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officers on the front lines, thank you for putting your own health at risk for the good of Central Oregon as a whole.

Thank you to the St. Charles Foundation for quickly establishing our new Hero Fund, which will benefit frontline caregivers at St. Charles, and for making the 2020 Heaven Can Wait 5K a benefit for COVID-19 relief efforts. It is never easy to ask people for money, but ultimately, donating money is the best way to help our efforts and our caregivers. (Heaven Can Wait is going virtual this year, by the way. Sign up here.)

Thank you to the many businesses and individuals across Central Oregon and beyond that have donated non-medical items and services such as food and drink over the past several weeks. Yes, our caregivers need personal protective equipment, proper training, strong leadership and emotional support along the way. But I can tell you that when a stack of pizzas shows up at the hospital these days, it is greeted with open arms and giant smiles. Simple things matter.

Thank you to the essential workers who are out there risking their own health to ensure our society continues to function as normally as possible. Times of crisis tend to illuminate the occupations that play an indispensable role in the world as we know it, and that’s certainly true right now. To the delivery drivers, postal employees, cashiers, gas station attendants, garbage collectors, retail workers, those on the food-supply chain and all others doing jobs we depend on: We appreciate you and we value your work.

Thank you to the vast army of skilled sewists across the region who have been busily crafting cloth masks for caregivers at St. Charles and other health care providers. On April 1, we announced our 10,000 Mask Challenge in hopes of collecting enough masks to give our people two each. Just over three weeks later, we surpassed that goal, and we’re still going so we can share with others. What an incredible thing it has been to watch this group mobilize and focus its efforts on helping the folks on the front lines.

Last but certainly not least, thank you to the 4,500+ caregivers at St. Charles Health System who have worked tirelessly over the past few months as we engage in an uncertain fight against an invisible enemy that doesn’t seem to play by the usual rules. My full-hearted gratitude goes to the doctors and nurses, of course, but also the pharmacists, respiratory therapists, medical techs, lab scientists, food services workers, environmental services staff, facilities crew and so many more in other support areas who keep our hospitals running smoothly. Thanks also to the administrators at St. Charles, who have spent countless hours setting up new services, honing policies, updating processes, pursuing solutions to new problems and otherwise supporting those on the front lines. We are not done yet, but for now, please know that I could not be more proud to lead such a terrific organization.

Finally, if you’ve read this far, thank you for taking the time to understand what’s happening at St. Charles and how our operation intersects with Central Oregon in this challenging time. It is vitally important that members of this community get their information from trusted sources so we’re all working from the same page and pulling in the same direction.

I’ve said it in my Monday emails and I’ll say it here: We are truly all in this together. Thanks for doing your part.

Sincerely,
Joe

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