Portland, OR

Thursday in Portland: OHA issues advisory for Willamette River amid algae blooms, OHSU merging with Legacy Health & more

Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Aug. 17 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. OHA issues health advisory for section of Willamette River amid toxic algae blooms

The Oregon Health Authority has issued a health advisory for a large section of the Willamette River near downtown Portland after toxic algae blooms were reported. The advisory goes from the Ross Island Lagoon to Cathedral Park in St. Johns. The cause of the algae is said to be excessive heat.

People are asked to avoid swimming and other recreational activities in the area - including water skiing and fishing - and keep pets away from the water. OHA said it’s okay to kayak and go boating in the river, but everyone is urged to avoid swimming.

2. OHSU merging with Legacy Health, sources say

Oregon Health & Science University is merging with Legacy Health, the largest hospital chain in Portland, officials confirmed Wednesday night. An official with knowledge of the transaction said OHSU would be the surviving entity. The fate of several Legacy hospitals under OHSU is unclear, as there are no obvious geographic conflicts between the two hospital systems.

“OHSU has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Legacy Health, united by a shared commitment to improving the health and well-being of people in Oregon and beyond,” Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, president of OHSU, said. “Now, we have an opportunity to join together and take a decisive next step that will help deliver on our promise to ensure the best access and care for all who need us, today and in the future.”

Legacy owns and operates seven hospitals in the Portland metro area. The hospital system lost a whopping $172 million in its 2023 fiscal year, raising questions about its viability as an independent operation. OHSU operates a complex of hospitals, health clinics, and dental and medical schools. With around $4 billion a year in operating revenue, OHSU is larger than Legacy. OHSU has around 18,000 employees and Legacy has 13,000.

3. Section of SE Yamhill reopens after sinkhole repairs

Three months after a sinkhole opened in the middle of the road, a stretch of Southeast Yamhill Street is back open following emergency repairs. The road was closed between Southeast 74th and Southeast 76th avenues when the sinkhole occurred on May 12. After stabilizing the sinkhole, crews said they determined that the road would need extensive repairs.

Bureau of Environmental Services spokesperson Andy Kiemen said last month that the sinkhole was caused by a leak in a private sewer lateral, a pipe that connects a home’s plumbing to the city’s sewer line. According to Kieman, because of the size and age of the sewer, the city had to order special parts to strengthen the sewer pipe.

Crews finished repaving the road on Wednesday and it’s now open to traffic.

Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow with all the latest Portland news.

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