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Lynne Saxton, Acting Director

Lynne Saxton, Director

Community resilience


To the OHA team:

Resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Our agency helps Oregon’s communities build their resiliency through our public health and health delivery systems. People in Harney County have provided a dramatic example of community resilience this month when armed occupants took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns.

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Map of Oregon, showing Harney County

This extraordinary event thrust a small community into the national spotlight and subjected the local residents to unimaginable stress. Harney County Public Health and Symmetry Care, the community behavioral health program in Burns, already had a working relationship before the occupation. But the nearly month-long stand-off provided both organizations an opportunity to collaborate in creative ways to aid a community in distress, all with local resources. Together, they developed a plan to help their residents deal with the crisis:

  • Symmetry Care offered free counseling to anyone involved, a public training on how to handle stress, and counselors at the schools to work with teachers and students.
  • Harney County Public Health kept in close communication with the Burns-Paiute Tribe and governmental emergency management to ensure community and tribal needs were met.
  • Both Harney County Public Health and Symmetry Care will continue to provide long-term support to residents as the community recovers from the event.

Leaders from both Harney County Public Health and Symmetry Care tell us that although the occupation was unexpected and caused immeasurable strain on residents, it helped integrate public health and behavioral health services in their community. This month’s events solidified an important relationship that is a foundation for Harney County’s admirable resilience.

Thank you all for the important work you do to keep Oregon strong and resilient.


To your health: There has been a lot of news about Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses in the news lately. If you’re traveling to a tropical area where Zika, dengue or chikungunya exist, our Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention folks have some easy ways to protect yourself and have a great vacation.

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent, particularly those containing DEET, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or Picardin.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear, or treat them yourself.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

For more information, visit healthoregon.org.​

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