PR disasters: OHSU, Intel & vineyard

2013 Oregon PR disasters hit OHSU, Intel & Troon vineyard
By Oregon Small Business Association

Three Oregon area businesses suffered bad public relations news this summer.  Each incident was handled with professionalism but demonstrate to all businesses the various ways small vulnerabilities can expand into front page headlines.

OHSU pulls out over Patient Privacy

Medical residents at Oregon Health and Sciences University had been storing patient information on Google’s cloud services for over two years before the practice was discovered in May. Details included patient names, ages, diagnoses and in some cases their addresses. Google’s Terms of Service state for anything put on its cloud, it can “publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute.” Consequently, such use for personal information poses a risk of data exposure. OHSU stopped the practice and sent disclosure letters to thousands of its patients.

Troon Vineyard
Christopher Martin, former director of Troon Vineyard in Applegate Valley, will take an indefinite leave of absence. Martin and a woman face federal accusations of lewd, indecent and obscene acts on an airplane, a federal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. The accused reportedly continued indecent acts despite passenger complaints and warnings from flight attendants. The incident occurred on a June flight from Medford to LasVegas. Larry Martin, the vineyard’s president and Christopher Martin’s father, named Brian Gruber as acting director of operations.

Intel Emitting Fluoride

It became front page news that Intel has been emitting fluoride for 35 years. Although the company has an air quality permit from DEQ, greenhouse gases were not added to a list of regulated pollutants until 2011. With plans to build their billion-dollar D1X expansion, Intel has applied for a DEQ permit which will allow 6.4 tons per year limit. reports that state environmental engineer George Davis told Hillsboro residents that the Department of Environmental Quality should have included fluoride in the permits in the past, but the agency is correcting that oversight now. Two public hearings have been held and concerned residents advised to submit written comments to DEQ.

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