SENATOR BETSY JOHNSON
April 12, 2011
Contact: Molly Woon (503) 986-1074
Bill will allow retired health providers to offer help during emergencies
SB 563 will help rural areas respond to natural disasters and other crises
SALEM – Legislation sponsored by Senator Betsy Johnson to allow retired health care workers to register as volunteers during Governor-declared emergencies passed unanimously in the Oregon Senate this morning. Senate Bill 563 expands the pool of Oregonians who can participate in the Oregon Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program to include retired individuals who were licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized to administer health care services within the last ten years.
“There are many retired doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals whose help can save lives during a disaster,” said Johnson (D-Scappoose). “In some of Oregon’s more isolated communities, this bill will mean that critical help is available in a time of crisis.”
Johnson pointed to areas like north Tillamook County, where there are no hospitals, and some towns like Wheeler and Manzanita, which have only a couple of active primary care physicians, as examples of communities that could benefit from SB 563.
“SB 563 expands options for rural areas, allowing more qualified medical professionals to help during an emergency,” said Johnson. “We can’t anticipate when or where the next natural disaster will happen in Oregon, but we can work to make sure that we have as many tools in our toolbox as possible to respond quickly and safely when that disaster occurs.”
Johnson introduced the bill at the request of the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay and the Medical Reserve Corps, a national organization that engages volunteers to strengthen public health, emergency response and community resiliency.
Senate Bill 563 now goes to the House for consideration.