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Message from your Medical Executive Committee

10 May 2020

Capacity updates and gratitude for your work

Dear Salem Health Medical Staff Members,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve it has been encouraging to witness our collective response. Over the last several months, we have modified almost every aspect of hospital operations in order to protect our providers and staff, and care for our patients while preparing for a potential surge of COVID-19 cases. Clinical teams in the Emergency Department, Medical Units and ICU’s have taken care of dozens of COVID-19 patients and many others suspected of having the illness. In addition, aggressive mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the virus in our community have been successful in significantly decreasing the number of infections and reducing the transmission level of the disease by about 70% statewide. Governor Brown’s recent Executive Order 20-24 allows for the continuance of these mitigation strategies until July 6th as needed. We appreciate the teamwork and dedication which in conjunction with aggressive mitigation strategies have led to these successes thus far in limiting the pandemic.

However, these successes have not come without challenges for Salem Hospital, our clinical practices or our patients. There have been significant social and economic costs associated with these aggressive community mitigation strategies. Fortunately, as a result of the successes in combating the pandemic, we are moving forward incrementally to expand the care that we provide to our patients. Effective May 1, we can perform elective procedures in addition to emergent and urgent procedures as delineated in Executive Order 20-22 and in accordance with guidelines published by the Oregon Health Authority. Furthermore, to help meet the medical treatment needs of our community, Imaging and Laboratory Services are increasing their capacity. The Emergency Department, often regarded as the “front door” of the hospital, has experienced a significant decline in patient visits since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is concerning and we do not want those in need of medical attention to delay their care because they are afraid to go to the hospital. The Emergency Department has protocols in place with patient and visitor safety a priority. Therefore, we can reassure our patients and the community that there is no need to postpone emergent medical treatment because of fear of going to the hospital for care during the pandemic.

Our models continue to show that we have more than enough capacity to provide care for anticipated future COVID-19 patients as well as other patients needing care during the pandemic. As we begin the process of expanding our services at Salem Health, capacity for beds, staffing, ventilators and PPE is being carefully monitored and contingency plans have been developed to assure high quality care for our patients while also maintaining the safety of providers and staff. In the case of any future significant surge in COVID-19 cases or other applicable circumstances, some restrictions may need to be reintroduced and providers will be notified immediately if such action is required. We appreciate your patience and support as we incrementally restore services at Salem Health.

In addition, we continue to seek ways to improve our capacity to test for COVID-19 and we are seeing progress on this front. Turnaround times for test results have improved and are now generally two days or less. Also, Salem Health is in the process of acquiring in-house testing capacity which will reduce turnaround time even further.  Improved testing capacity will allow us to further refine our strategies for expanding services and caring for patients. We will work to provide you with more detailed information regarding testing as we continue to move forward.

As a leadership team, we would like to thank all of you once again for your untiring efforts on behalf of our patients. We have seen innumerable examples from all who work at Salem Health pulling together during this trying time and we can all take pride in how our collaborative culture has served our hospital and our community. In the coming weeks, we will likely be confronted by new challenges as we restart our elective services and continue to care for patients and families impacted by the pandemic, but we are confident as we work together these challenges will be overcome. We will continue to keep you informed via “Common Ground” and to communicate through our medical staff leadership structure. If you have concerns or questions, please continue to share them with your medical staff leaders.

Thank you for your continued support.


Leon Burrows, MD – Medical Staff President

Misha Mohindra, MD – Credentials Chair

Jennifer Williams, MD – MPRC Chair

Marc Sunday, DO – Primary Care Department Chair

Kevin Thompson, DO – Medical Specialty Department Chair

Mauricio Collada, MD – Surgical Specialty Department Chair

Cheryl Nester Wolfe – Salem Health President & CEO

Sarah Horn – Chief Nursing Officer

Ralph Yates, DO – Chief Medical Officer

Matthew Boles, MD – VP Medical Affairs