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We’re preparing for the big eclipse Aug. 21

By Andrew Furman, MD, vice president of medical affairs

The City of Salem predicts 250,000 to 500,000 visitors may travel here to witness the August 21 solar eclipse. Salem Health planning efforts are being guided by the Hospital Preparedness Council, a group of clinical and operational directors, as well as the Physicians Preparedness Council which includes Drs. Nicole VanDerHeyden, Chris Clarke and Tony Blair. I am the executive directing the planning process.

Below are some of the planning highlights:

Staffing needs

A surge plan has been implemented, including increased staff and providers for targeted units/departments.  It is important that staff scheduled to work the week before or after the eclipse to make their shift. Traffic is expected to be very difficult, particularly on the day of the eclipse.

Operational updates

A hospital command center will be operating during the days surrounding the eclipse. Staffing of the command center will flex to the level needed.

Salem Health is coordinating with Falck, the local EMS provider, who will have a staff member in the hospital command center.

Parking and security

To deal with increased parking needs, additional temporary parking areas have been identified and more details will follow. Security will screen incoming vehicles and will have officers patrolling the Salem campus around the clock. Officers will also be assigned to West Valley Hospital around the clock.

Watching the eclipse

Protective eyewear has been distributed to managers and is available for working staff and patients. You MUST wear protective eyewear designed for eclipse viewing, Sunglasses are NOT a safe alternative. Without the right filters, serious eye damage can occur. More information about eye safety can be found here.

Stay abreast of eclipse planning information on the Emergency Preparedness link found under the Tools & Resources banner on the Salem Health intranet home page.  

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