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Where Are They Now? An Update on Oregon’s Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties

In part three of a five-part We Are Public Health series update, the health departments of Oregon’s Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties discuss their collaborative efforts to improve emergency preparedness in rural areas. As part of our 25th anniversary, we are recognizing the excellent work of our partners.
Where Are They Now? An Update on Oregon’s Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties

Oregon’s Unified Command from Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties during a recent regional medical surge exercise.

In part three of a five-part We Are Public Health series update, the health departments of Oregon’s Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties discuss their collaborative efforts to improve emergency preparedness in rural areas. As part of our 25th Anniversary, we are recognizing the excellent work of our partners.

September 8, 2015

In March 2013, the We Are Public Health series featured the health departments of Oregon’s Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties, and their collaborative approach to emergency preparedness. In rural areas such as these three counties, neighboring health departments work closely with each other out of necessity to share expertise and resources. Collaboration is key for these counties because if a potential emergency or outbreak were to affect one county, it would likely affect the others.

In 2013, the three health departments received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to help coordinate their training efforts so they could be better prepared to respond to events that threaten the health of entire communities. The grant also supported the convening of commissioners and health administrators from the three counties to develop a model of shared preparedness together. The idea to collaborate initially came from seeing a grant announcement from the Foundation’s public health cross-jurisdictional sharing (CJS) initiative.

We Are Public Health 2013-03

The March 2013 We Are Public Health postcard, featuring Oregon’s Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties.

Where Are They Now?
Midway through this CJS project, the health departments received a six-month “mini grant” from the state of Oregon to develop and exercise a Regional Medical Surge Plan staffed by a preparedness planning contractor. Leveraged by the RWJF grant, this work embodied a key cross-jurisdictional project implementation goal to employ a part-time temporary public health preparedness training and exercise planner for the three-county CJS project.

“The Central Oregon Medical Surge Plan is the first document of its kind in central Oregon,” said Mary Goodwin, Public Health Preparedness Coordinator for Deschutes County. Planning guidance and two important Medical Surge Command Post exercises—which included four hospitals and tri-county emergency management officials—would not have been created if it weren’t for the CJS project. “Without the CJS project, each of our three county health departments would have continued preparedness planning work exclusive of the others,” said Goodwin.

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