COVID-19 Lane County Update March 27, 2020. by Pat Farr

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

March 27, 2020 2:30PM (most recent information here)
● There have been 12 deaths in Oregon from COVID-19.
● Oregon health centers receive nearly $1.9 M from HHS to help with coronavirus
● OR Department of Education is working on student mental health initiatives in response
to COVID-19 and school closures, such as collaborating with LinesForLife for remote
risk assessments and safety planning for schools. They have created guidance and
resources for schools and families located here.
● – new resource to register for tracking/coordination of
donations of private resources
● PPE stock continues to be strained across the state and nation, and in Oregon. The
projected patient influx will cause significant shortage. There is a forecasted blood supply
shortage due to reduced donation. Current state mortuary capacity is stable.
Lane County:

LANE COUNTY Cases as of 3/27/2020 3:20AM
Confirmed 9
Negative Test Result 432
Deaths 1

● Weekend EOC hours will be from 10am-2pm; Call Center from 8am-8pm
● New case announced 3/27, bringing total to 9 in Lane County.
● First emergency respite center open in the Expo Hall at fairground, 118 served on 3/26 &
113 served as of 4:40pm today; Wheeler Pavilion will be a shelter for mildly ill;
Operations continues to secure transportation, care, food, locations for people awaiting
results and is facing challenges with hotels.
o Second respite shelter in Springfield will open Saturday night
● We are working with hospitals to begin tracking ED/ICU beds, COVID-19 admits,
COVID-19 patients on ventilators, and supplies of PPE and ventilators.
● Impacted County services are now listed on the Lane County Government website.
● Staff are experiencing technical difficulties with Orpheus for electronic lab results (due to
# of users, # of lab records, etc.)
● There is now a standardized messaging and enforcement process for non-compliant
business operations. Call Center can now record business complaints by region (Eug,
Spfld, Rural). At the end of every day, ESF-18 will export the list to the appropriate
jurisdictions for enforcement.
● Admin has begun preparing FEMA reimbursements.
● JIC has new staff; has moved to Charnelton 471 (computer training room). Currently
working with Logistics to secure Spanish translation of press briefings.
● Over the past 2 days, Call Center volume continues to decrease (239 calls Thursday, 22%
went to nurses); provider call turnout and duration has decreased; number of inquiries
about business concerns has decreased as well.

Sick leave for everyone? by Pat Farr

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Paid sick leave

I am going to make some assumptions about the way people operate, based upon the standards I would like to adhere to in my life:

1.            They have a job that they either love or need and they  want to do it the best that it can be done.

2.            They  care about the people they work with, around and for and do not want to cause them discomfort or place them at unnecessary risk.

3.            They  do not like to be ill.

Allowing for days off while sick should be a fundamental part of an employer’s terms of agreement with employees.

Clearly an ill staff member is not going to perform his or her duty in a manner to the standard their peers expect and need, that  their employer feels is needed for the work to be completed at standard, or significantly to the level that customers demand and deserve.

Just as clearly, the risk of infection spreading to the men women and children that an ill person comes into contact with is a risk that should not be taken.  To that same end, Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan calls for inoculation and vaccination levels to be increased to produce “herd immunity” and to prevent outbreak of communicable diseases.  Workers who are go to work while ill are directly opposed to the Health Improvement Plan’s basic tenets.

The first option for an ill worker, in order to avoid substandard work or potential wide spread health threat, is to stay home.  For all involved, that  is nearly always the preferred option—whether you are a coworker, employer or customer.

Ignoring these threats leaves a working poor person with a second choice that is not good.  In the case of workers who lose pay while staying home to prevent outbreak, substandard job performance or customer dissatisfaction the choice is untenable:  “Do I lose money from my paycheck or do I expose others to unacceptable risk?”

The choice might seem clear to those among us who do not rely on every penny earned to pay the rent, put gas in the car, buy antihistamines or feed our children.  Take home less pay and sacrifice something that we enjoy, perhaps, or something that is not necessary to meet our basic needs.  Stay home and get better at the same time making sure that we are not causing others we work around to be at risk or be unable to do our job the way we would like to do it.

Those among us who have work that covers our bills have many choices in our lives that we hold dear.  We can buy presents for our loved ones.  We can wear stylish clothing.  We can buy medication that keeps our noses from running.  We can go to the coast or up the river for a day or a weekend.  These are but a few areas we have choices in every day.

But I regularly think about those among us whose paycheck either does not cover the bills or just barely does so without allowing for choices such as an extra cup of coffee, dessert or a mini-vacation—the working poor.  There are thousands of people that you may see daily that suffer far beyond illness if they lose pay by missing work for illness.

I believe that there is an obligation to help the working poor who we live alongside, whose children attend school with our children.  The working poor, we should assume, would like to buy a new pair of shoes for their child, or not face eviction or have their electricity shut off, or want to make sure their kids don’t go through the day hungry during the summer when schools aren’t providing meals.  People who need to have a sense of security that they aren’t going to even further lower their standard of living by missing a day of work.

Employers should be encouraged to find a way to help themselves while fostering a level of security in daily needs that everybody in this country should have.

Immediately, I consider the potential abuse of paid sick leave that becomes possible.  The possibility of people staying home just because they didn’t get enough sleep.  Or staying home because they just don’t feel like working today.

But those risks are present even without paid sick leave.  Those are disciplinary issues that an employer should have a plan to deal with.  That is a symptom of a bad worker issue that becomes part of the standard disciplinary process.

I think about people who have worked for me and how well I have always wanted to care for them, by offering benefits beyond a paycheck.  By offering a productive and supportive work environment.  I think that I should not be told how to run my business.  Of course I shouldn’t be told how to run my business.  I should be able to operate my business in a way that is sustainable for me, my staff and my customers.

But then I also think that making certain that I am not placing myself at risk, or placing my staff or my customers at risk is the way I want to run my business.  I do not want employees who are sick jeopardizing their own health or others they work with.

That being said, the city of Eugene’s ordinance reaches too far the way it is written.  Relying on administrative rules to cover the stretch beyond the boundaries of the city’s jurisdiction is not a risk that Lane County should assume.  Jurisdictions operating on ever diminishing general fund dollars, using revenue streams produced by taxes, cannot afford for their expenses to be increased by other jurisdictions.  Such increases in expenses, however small, cannot be absorbed and therefore result in a reduction of services.

To that end, the Board of County Commissioners have a duty to protect and preserve its resources and cannot rely on speculative administrative rules of another jurisdiction for assurance.



Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan targets prevention of outbreaks and epidemics. by Pat Farr

Friday, June 27th, 2014


HIV Alliance staff join me and other elected officials to kick off free testing for early detection

HIV Alliance staff join me and other elected officials to kick off free testing for early detection

COMMUNITY HEALTH IMPROVEMENT PLAN. Lane County’s plan has five target areas (click here) for helping make Lane County become (in my words) “The healthiest county in the US.”

One area is to Improve Health Equity by examining “the implementation of all Community Health Improvement Plan strategies through an ‘equity lens’ to assess any disproportionate impacts on specific populations and make any necessary modifications to improve health equity”

To those ends, Lane County’s HIV Alliance announced on Thursday June 26 a free HIV testing day.  I joined Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Cottage Grove Mayor Chuck Munroe, Springfield City Councilor Marilee Woodrow, HIV Alliance director Diane Lang and the volunteer and paid staff of the alliance at the Lane County Health and Human Services Building for the milestone event.




Monday, October 28th, 2013


Lane County HHS building

Lane County, ORE — The rate of certain STDs and STIs, Pertussis, Influenza and several other communicable diseases are on the rise in Lane County. This fact, along with the threat of new “drug-resistant” strains, is cause for concern among many public health authorities. Fortunately, awareness, a high immunization rate and proper preventative care can curtail this trend.

“We have all the preventative tools to keep our community safe,” says Lane County Public Health Officer, Dr. Patrick Luedtke, “now it’s a matter of helping our community understand the importance of using those tools.”

In order to kick-off this important effort, Lane County Health & Human Services, in collaboration with Trillium Community Health Plan, University of Oregon and Lane Community College, is hosting a one day FREE FLU SHOT CLINIC open to any and all community members on a walk-in basis as well as a town hall about communicable diseases.

“While immunization clinics and community discussions are only a piece of the solution, we must act to prevent more severe consequences,” added Luedtke.

Luedtke will be joined by a panel of communicable disease experts to discuss the rising rate of communicable disease infections in Lane County, outline the current situation and causation and discuss strategies to keep our community safe from the next big outbreak. Among these experts are Dr. Anna Stern, Medical Director for Trillium Community Health Plan, James Mough, University of Oregon Labs Manager, Dr. Lisandra Guzman, Community Health Centers of Lane County and Renee Yandel, Program Director for HIV Alliance. The town hall will take place Wednesday, October 30th, from 6-7 p.m. on the University of Oregon campus in Willamette Hall, room 100. (See map here).

The free flu clinic will take place the same day (Wednesday, October 30th) at Lane Community College’s downtown campus (101 West 10th Ave) on the first floor in the Center for Media and Learning (rooms 112-114) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, please contact Lane County Health & Human Services at: 541-682-4041

Lane County Community Health Assessment. by Pat Farr

Monday, June 24th, 2013


The Board of County Commissioners will convene as the Lane County Board of Health on Tuesday June 25, 2013 to discuss and most likely approve the Lane County Community Health Assessment.  The study is a collaboration of Lane County Public Health, Peace Health Oregon West, Trillium CCO and United Way of Lane County.

Before your eyes glaze over, please note that this important study has given us 80-plus pages of intriguing data including charts showing food stamp usage, education, homeless counts, leading causes of death and a lot more.  To view the full document click here .

It is no surprise that tobacco use crops up as the most expensive and extensive health problem we have in Lane County.  It contributes to nearly a quarter of all deaths here.

Here is a brief Summary of the findings:

Community Health Status

a.  Lane County residents’ overall physical health tends to be better than the state or nation

b.  Despite good physical health, Lane County residents are much more likely to experience poor mental health and substance abuse issues than the rest of Oregon or the nation

c.  Cost remains a significant barrier to access for many residents

d.  Tobacco use among pregnant women has increased in recent years and is a major concern for the health of both mother and child

e.  Childhood vaccination rates in Lane County are too low to effectively protect against communicable diseases like pertussis and measles

Forces of Change and Community Themes

a.  Certain communities in Lane County have a significantly older population than the rest of the county/state/nation

b.  Lane County is growing more ethnically diverse, with an increasing Hispanic population

c.  In community forums, residents identified behavioral health, tobacco use, obesity, and diabetes as the most pressing needs in Lane County

d.  Increased access to oral health care was identified by both consumers and providers as a priority

e.  Due to budgetary constraints and the economic downturn, Lane County and other community service providers have been forced to cut back on services

and, significantly:

Priority Areas for Community Health Improvement

a.  Advance and Improve Health Equity

b.  Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use

c.  Slow the Increase of Obesity

e.  Prevent and Reduce Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

f.  Improve Access to Health Care

To view the entire agenda for the June 25 Lane County Board of Commissioners meeting click here.


Ho-hum turns into an eye-opener: A Reason to Hope by Pat Farr

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013


I attended the “A Reason to Hope Community Breakfast” this morning.  I was asked to sit at her table by Andrea Gillespie of Emeritus at Alpine Court Memory Care Community.

I accepted the invitation, admittedly somewhat half-heartedly, being not particularly interested in Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia.  I thought I was simply doing Andrea a favor and I found myself looking at my watch. Until I realized how pervasive Alzheimer’s is, and how it has touched my life already.  And how it is likely, statistically, to touch my life again–as well as the lives of most other Americans.

You see, I found out that the disease and its insidious relatives will strike another man or woman in the USA every 68 seconds.  That strike will dramatically change the lives of every person who knows the new victim–for many years.

In listening to testimony from relatives of Alzheimer’s sufferers I remembered, then, the heartache Debi and I encountered watching Debi’s aunt, Yvonne Havilland, slide from being a dynamic, loving and engaged woman to someone who did not remember her brother’s name.  Our memories match those of countless other Americans who have seen the same.

Alzheimers is not something we can watch from our comfy seats.  It is something we will encounter, perhaps even personally.

Much research has been done to reduce deaths from heart disease, aids and other widespread killers.  Alzheimer researchers are confident that they will conquer it.  Given the right support, and maybe in time to save someone I love and cherish.

I will be walking on October 13 in the Cascade Coast Walk to End Alzheimer’s, at Alton Baker Park in Eugene starting at 2 pm.  I will strive to do what i can to focus research and attention on this heartbreaking killer.

For more about Alzheimer’s go here.