About Me

March 14, 2020

Welcome to DisasterDoc.net. My name is Sheila Sund, M.D. and I am a retired physician from Salem, Oregon. My training was in Neurology and Hospice/Palliative Medicine, and my career encompassed both clinical care and healthcare administration. Obviously, this background doesn’t shout “disaster expert”, but I’ve actually been a disaster geek since age 12 when I was evacuated from myhome after the San Fernando Earthquake.

During the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic, I was the Medical Director of a large non-profit hospice.  When Oregon health officials became concerned about hospital capacity, I asked whether hospice staff could be used to expand home care for pandemic patients. As a result, when H1N1 was over, I was asked to participate on the state workgroup developing Oregon’s Crisis Care Guidance – efficient ways to plan for and provide health care in a crisis, including ethical ways of triaging care if demand ever exceeded resources.

H1N1 also prompted me to question whatmy role as a physician volunteer would be following a disaster, only to discover that no one had a clue. Thus began my quest to learn as much as possible about how society, and particularly healthcare, would respond to a major disaster or pandemic.

I had the opportunity to spend time with a variety of people involved in emergency planning at the local, state, and federal level. In the process, I realized much of what I learned was unknown by people outside the preparedness field (including elected officials). Even within the field, knowledge and coordination was limited between agencies, and most lacked even a basic understanding of how healthcare worked or the science behind disasters.

Along the way, I ended up as Director of the Marion County Medical Reserve Corps, physician representative on Oregon’s Region Two Coalition for Healthcare Preparedness, Chairperson of the Marion Polk County Medical Society Emergency Preparedness Task Force and worked with Marion County Public Health in 2013 on pandemic planning.  And I discovered a skill in “putting it all together” for wider healthcare, business, and community audiences, via the written word (including this blog) and live presentations.

I let most disaster medicine activities go when I retired several years ago, but the 12-year-old disaster geek lives on, and I’ve continued to follow the field, just for “fun”. Now that we’re all facing COVID-19 together, I thought restarting my blog might help others understand what is happening with the virus, and what we all need to do.

Doctors desk

  1. Brett Popovich says:

    I look forward to hearing more from you!

  2. Pat says:

    Hey Doc, have you signed up on ServOR..Oregon’s ESAR-VHP program? Are you an MRC Volunteer?

    • disasterdoc says:

      Definitely! I took over operations of our MRC last summer, and am in the process of turning it into an independent medical team (similar to a DMAT model), but for local use.

  3. Richelle Rumford says:

    Do you speak at symposiums on disaster preparedness topics?

    • disasterdoc says:

      I am always glad to speak at symposiums or other gatherings. I speak most often on issues related to healthcare preparedness, but also do more general interest disaster topics, chosen based on the audience. Feel free to contact me via the Contact Me tab at the top of my blog.

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