The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has stepped up the distribution of air conditioning units to those most at risk of heat-related illnesses, while offering tips for staying cool in extreme heat conditions.
Additionally, the agency reminds Oregon employers of a rule that requires them to take steps to protect workers from the dangers of high heat. These measurements should be taken when the temperature is at or above 80 degrees.
The National Weather Service forecasts an increase in temperatures throughout the week. They are expected to top 100 degrees in Pendleton, Redmond and the Portland metro area by Tuesday, with Medford hitting 108 degrees. Temperatures are expected to stay above 100 in all parts of the state through at least Friday.
The program providing air conditioning units to vulnerable Oregonians, including the elderly, people confined to their homes and those with health conditions exacerbated by high heat events, was created following the passage of the Senate Bill 1536 in the 2022 legislative session. The bill allocated $5 million to purchase air conditioners for high-risk Oregonians who are eligible to receive medical assistance through the OHA, the Department of Oregon Social Services (ODHS) or Medicare, or who have received one of these services within the past 12 months. The law also allows units to be installed in homes even if they are not permitted in landlord or tenant agreements as long as they do not pose a safety hazard.
Over the weekend, OHA – with coordination and support from ODHS – delivered approximately 500 AC units with the help of three community organizations: Portland Open Bible Church, Rockwood Community Development Corporation, and Somali American Council of Oregon . The OHA is buying about 3,000 units this summer and has received about 1,000 to date. The OHA will be working with more community organizations on the distribution of air conditioning units in the coming days.
Managed Care Organizations (CCOs) can purchase air conditioning units directly and help with any increased electricity bill costs for their enrolled OHP members through their flexible services offerings. Members registered with a CCO can call Member Services to inquire about flexible services.
“Climate change has made extreme heat events the rule, not the exception, during Oregon’s summer months,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “These air conditioning units are a necessary step in building resilience to this health threat, especially for those most vulnerable to heat exhaustion, heatstroke and death.”
Source: Oregon Health Authority