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From Lewis Low, M.D.: Was eclipse hype just an example of fake news?

September 2017

Lewis Low, M.D.


Turns out the eclipse hype about all that might wreak havoc on our state, with an estimated one million visitors, didn’t pan out. Yes, there was a lot of traffic post-eclipse, but there were no major casualties, and no need to put our incident command center in full gear. We didn’t experience a surge in patients.

I like to think that the planning and collaboration ahead of this uneventful “once in a lifetime” event was of very high value. Oregon was prepared. Here at Legacy, we had to think of our hospitals as one resource, and prepare to distribute patient care in the most efficient way while preserving the unique capabilities of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center (such as trauma, burns, ECMO).

We also made sure to coordinate with other health systems as well as regional, state and federal agencies. There were meetings, weekly calls and a detailed plan to accommodate more patients. For example, we set up telehealth services for hospitals in Central Oregon, coordinated air ambulance services with the National Guard and Life Flight, and established adequate supplies of blood, fluids and other material.

While the eclipse might seem anti-climactic after all the buildup, I’m glad we went to great lengths to plan for the worst. More importantly, we demonstrated we are prepared for the next big event — one that will eventually happen. Closer to home, we learned more about how we can collaborate to care for our community during more common events such as the next flu pandemic or major winter storm.

As I reflect on what didn’t happen, I’m also reminded that today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11. We have seen what ensues when the worst takes place. Our country came together, as never before, during a horrible time. We learned so much about the importance of collaboration and preparation for major catastrophe.

We may live in a fragmented, polarized world, but I see the positive outcomes of collaboration and partnership. The hype around the eclipse wasn’t “fake” news— it was the positive result of serious emergency planning and a community coming together. 


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