Pacific Northwest
Dr. Lesley Ogden and Chris Lemar stand beside the backup generator at Lincoln City's new hospital, which is mounted on a shock-absorbing rack to protect against an earthquake.

Prepping for The Big One: Oregon coastal hospitals get creative with disaster planning

The state of Oregon is pushing the community hospitals along the Oregon Coast to improve their earthquake resilience. This comes after a state report predicted none of them would be able to sustain operations after the feared Big One -- a magnitude 9 offshore Cascadia earthquake and tsunami.

Hospitals in Washington state were called out too, in a separate report by that state's government. The challenge is inspiring some creative thinking about how these hospitals might secure extended emergency power and water.

A year and a half ago, the Oregon Health Authority gathered the head honchos of all 11 Oregon coastal hospitals in a conference room in Newport. The hospital CEOs heard a sobering warning followed by a call to action. A state resilience engineer told them their coastal towns will be isolated by landslides, collapsed bridges and turned into de facto islands after a great Cascadia earthquake.

"We understand now that we should plan our resiliency efforts around a mark of about three weeks or more," said Dr. Lesley Ogden, CEO of the Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, Oregon, who was present at the meeting. "We should expect to be totally on our own without deliveries of fuel or water or anything else."

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