For many years, residents of Oregon’s coastal communities have been aware of the potential for a damaging Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. In 2020, Lincoln County experienced two different natural disasters — devastating wildfires and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — that shocked residents into a greater awareness of the importance of being prepared for an emergency.

Thanks to a grant from the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation and a significant discount from local vendor Bruce Polvi, owner of Lincoln City Sporting Goods and Electronics, each of the 825 Samaritan employees working in Lincoln County will receive an emergency preparedness backpack.

“During the Echo Mountain wildfires in September, thousands of residents, including our own hospital employees, were forced to evacuate from Lincoln City, and the vast majority of them went south to Newport,” said Dr. Lesley Ogden, chief executive officer of both Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital. “Dealing with the wildfires along with our ongoing efforts to safely provide care during COVID-19 have taught us the importance of being ready for anything.”

Hospital employees at both locations have been traumatized and stressed by the events of the past several months. Some lost their homes to wildfires and others lost income during mandatory time-off related to the coronavirus. Yet, they continued to provide dedicated and professional care no matter what obstacles were thrown their way, Ogden said.

The executive leadership at both hospitals wanted to express their gratitude, so staff from Samaritan Foundations wrote grants to secure funding for the emergency preparedness backpacks.

“We hope they will feel a little safer and more prepared for the unknown because we now know firsthand that anything can happen at any time,” said Ursula Marinelli, executive director of both Pacific Communities Health District Foundation and North Lincoln Hospital Foundation (interim).

Each backpack includes 32 servings of freeze-dried food, squeeze flashlight, portable stove and fuel tablets, water pouch, first aid supplies, playing cards, waterproof matches, N95 dust mask, survival whistle, tin cup, poncho and Mylar blanket. It weighs 9 pounds and has a 25-year shelf life.

The backpacks were presented to Lincoln County’s Samaritan staff the week of May 17. The gift tags attached read: Thank you to our Health Care Heroes for your efforts, sacrifices, resilience and service through the pandemic and wildfires!

About Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation

Since 1998, the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation based in Wilsonville, has supported grant proposals that are in service to education, mentorship, arts, creativity, health and wellbeing in Oregon and Washington. They also recognize the need for emergency support pertaining to climate and other natural disasters, and consequently reserve funds to support those needs when they arise. For information, visit MarieLamfrom.org.

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