Since 2004, Samaritan Health Services has been serving as the lead agency in coordinating emergency preparedness for Oregon's Region 2, an area that includes Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties. The region is one of seven designated Healthcare Preparedness regions in the State of Oregon. SHS has hired a coordinator for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Region 2, whose office is located in Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. This coordinator is working with local agencies to develop plans that are collaborative and cooperative.
This effort, Samaritan is working with the Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program is congressionally allocated to run through at least 2011.
The scope of the preparedness/planning endeavor is huge. The Region 2 plan must serve a population of more than 680,000, living in three urban areas, many large rural areas, and coastal areas where isolation can be a concern. Particular elements to be considered and coordinated include: 12 hospitals, six public health departments, six county emergency managers, 911 centers, fire/EMS, tribes, law enforcement, equipment supplies, vaccine and medication supplies, staffing/credentialing, volunteers, mental health, crisis intervention, special populations, environmental health, communications, quarantine/isolation and more.
Progress toward implementing the HRSA Region 2 Plan has been remarkable, thanks to the commitment of multiple agencies working together. To date, more than $3 million in federal emergency preparedness funds have been distributed to hospitals, emergency medical services, and tribes within Region 2 to purchase additional disaster supplies and equipment.
Still other preparedness/planning initiatives have been implemented or underway. Following are just a few examples:
- Samaritan Health Services applied for and received Homeland Security and HRSA grants to install a system-wide radio network. The radio system allows all five SHS hospitals to communicate during a disaster, and it provides a backup communication means if phone, cell phone and computer networks fail. With each hospital maintaining emergency power through its own generators, the radios will remain operational during power outages or other communication line failures.
- SHS Emergency Management Team, in conjunction with Benton County Emergency Management, has developed an emergency preparedness booklet available to everyone. To get a copy of the booklet, e-mail
- Each year, Samaritan Health Services and county health departments work together to develop a community preparedness and response plan for the pandemic flu. The goal of the plan is to use education outreach and awareness to teach people in the community how to protect themselves.
- A number of employees of the Samaritan Emergency Management Department have completed a certificate program at Linn-Benton Community College and are now certified in Emergency Management Leadership. This new class was created with the help of Dr. Larry Mullins, CEO of Samaritan Health Services.
- Samaritan is working with local county health departments to develop alternate care sites, in the event the hospital would be full and more injured or ill people would be coming to the emergency department every minute. These sites would be used for triaging, treating or caring for victims/patients of an emergency. The purpose of these sites would be to treat people as close to their home community as possible, while preventing the hospital from becoming gridlocked and unable to treat the most seriously-needy patients.