Clients can always access clinical services, even during hazardous air warnings and COVID-19

September 23, 2020

Extreme weather and public health emergencies can pose health risks to all people but can be serious and even life-threatening for those with chronic health conditions. People who are pregnant also need regular and routine check-ups. Stress can be a significant factor in pregnancy complications.

Smoky skies in downtown Portland, Sept. 15, 2020

Chronic health conditions include heart and lung diseases, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, substance misuse or addictions, and mental health issues that require ongoing therapeutic support or prescription monitoring. 

Even when the air outside is extremely poor — or hazardous, as we have seen in 2020 — Multnomah County Health Department’s Community Health Centers will remain open for those requiring life-saving prescription drug treatment, emergency dental care, prenatal care, and treatment for certain health conditions. 

Primary care, dental services, student health centers, and pharmacies continue to meet their patients’ needs. 

We are living through a global pandemic and historical wildfires, and this fall we are reentering the flu season and a time when air quality naturally worsens. Health officials want to remind community members it is critical that all people, and especially people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, to reach out for the health services they need.

Primary care services provide an essential life-line, not only to medical treatment and prescription medicine, but to wrap-around social and health services that support personal and family stability during an emergency. 

County clinics continue to offer health services virtually, through telephone and video conferencing. But sometimes it’s best to get care in person. 

That’s because some health issues are difficult to identify during a telemedicine visit. This is why Multnomah County Health Department’s primary care, dental care, and student health centers continue to provide both telemedicine and in-person services to patients despite recent air quality warnings and COVID-19.

For patients who require an in-person visit, Community Health Centers do everything they can to protect staff and patient safety. 

“We've learned so much from providing care during COVID-19 that we were able to apply our learning to other emergencies, including wildfire smoke,” said Deputy Director of Integrated Clinical Services Adrienne Daniels. “By maintaining strict sanitation levels, adding additional air purification, and continuing personal protective equipment requirements, clinics were able to offer in-person services during this air quality crisis.”

The Patient Access Center can help patients determine if they require an in-person visit, or can be seen in a telehealth appointment. Just dial 503-988-5558.

Health Department and County leadership are committed to making the changes needed to ensure community members and clients still have access to safe, quality in-person and telemedicine health services during this time. 

“Promoting access to care has been our focus through the pandemic and has been an emphasis for us during the wildfires,” said Medical Director of Integrated Clinical Services Amy Henninger.

Health Officials know air quality warnings and COVID-19 safety measures can make it confusing or difficult to decide when to seek health care. The key message: don’t postpone urgent or preventive care for chronic conditions, or if you are pregnant. Now more than ever it is important to stay in contact with your healthcare provider. 

Learn More

Please see the following links for the most recent updates on clinic hours and locations.  If you are unsure if an in-person or telemedicine appointment is right for you, call the Patient Access Center at 503-988-5558.