On Wednesday, August 23, PeaceHealth announced its plans to close Eugene’s only hospital and its emergency room. Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch sent this open letter to Brian Shipley, PeaceHealth system vice president for government affairs and legal services.
PeaceHealth’s decision to close Eugene’s only hospital and emergency room is dangerous to our community and rural areas that rely on that site. I am hearing emergency responders were not included or consulted in this decision-making, let alone the community as a whole that will be affected.
The Eugene-Springfield Fire Department was not consulted. In 2022, they transported roughly 4,400 people to the Eugene District site. This closure will create longer ambulance call, response, and transport times. It will result in longer patient offload time and lower overall ambulance reliability. This also impacts Cahoots and their drop-off needs. Currently, I’m not seeing capacity availability at RiverBend that will meet Eugene’s needs.
From a regional emergency management perspective, there is an inherent increased risk to the public of not having an emergency hospital for those who live south of the river, where a majority of Eugene residents live. What happens in a disaster and the river access is cut such as a predicted catastrophic Cascadia earthquake event?
This may be a fiscal decision for PeaceHealth but it is a moral and health catastrophe for our community.
Lane County Commissioner – District 5