NEW THIS AFTERNOON: COVID-19 Executive Order update from Joe Sluka, St. Charles Health System President and CEO

It’s time to act!
Over the past several weeks, St. Charles caregivers at all levels have been working tirelessly to prepare the health system for a widespread COVID-19 outbreak in Central Oregon.I am so proud of the way our teams have come together and made critical decisions quickly that will protect them and help us serve our community throughout this ongoing pandemic.But I worry that without your help, everything we do won’t be enough.

While I am supporting our local caregivers, as Chairman of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, I have also been working closely with local, state and federal officials on our response to this growing public health issue.

Although the Governor has instituted an order to stay home unless you need food, medical supplies or emergency medical care – all weekend people ignored the information, went to the beach and flooded state parks and national forests. This is unacceptable.

We are in a fight right now!

This is a fight in which we have to do everything in our power to win. As the leader of your local health care system, I am begging you. Stay home now. You can’t catch or spread this disease if you don’t come in contact with it. Our caregivers and first responders are putting themselves on the frontline and don’t have a choice. They will come to work so they can care for you and your loved ones. We need you to stay home so we will have the capacity – the hospital beds, ventilators and trained staff – to care for those who need it most.

Our actions over the next few weeks are crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19. What we do in the coming days will directly impact our efforts to “flatten the curve” of the disease and slow the tide of patients that threatens to inundate our hospitals. You only need to look at New York, California and our neighbor to the north, Washington, to see what is heading our way.

We can see it coming, now is the time to act before it is too late.

Although we have created surge plans and set up tents at each of our facilities, this threat remains very real.

No matter what you’ve done in recent days, you must listen to me: The only way we are going to slow the spread of COVID-19 right now is by self-isolating at home and only leaving for essential needs like food or medicine. If you have kids at home – including teenagers – we need you to enforce this directive for them, too.

Yes, that means no trips to the popular dog park. No gathering for a picnic, even if you sit six feet apart. No spring break trips to the coast. It means stay home. These actions are necessary to save lives in our community and the lives of our health care workers.

I would also like to thank our health care workers, EMS agencies and all first responders who are putting their lives on the line to help us through this continuing crisis. They are making critical sacrifices. Please make changes in your own behavior to support them.