I started my medical career back in the 1970's by becoming an EMT in a rural area of the Central Oregon Coast. As a woman, in those days, I was not allowed to belong to the fire department where I received my training or work on the ambulance as it was a police union--both were all male. So, instead, I formed one the first Oregon State EMT Associations (OSEMTA) in the County and directed EMS training for north Lincoln County for 9 years. After a hiatus to follow my husband to Central Oregon, I went to work as a volunteer with Sisters Fire Department as a fire fighter and had to restart my EMT career all over again. During those years I was also a reserve police officer for Sisters Police, but trained with a Deschutes County Deputy; I also held a paid position with the City of Sisters as their Finance Assistant. A couple years later I moved back to the Coast and worked for Lincoln County Ambulance, a physicians office, 911 as a dispatcher and eventually also Pacific Communities Hospital Home Health. I remarried--a paramedic, and after he was hurt and could no longer work I decided to jump out of the pan of comfort into the fires of higher education. I returned to school after being out for 26 years by attending Oregon State University. I was active with the College of Science and the Honors College; graduated with an Honors Baccalaureate in General Science with minors in Chemistry and Applied Ethics. My goal was to practice medicine in primary care in rural Oregon. I was accepted on the first try to Oregon Health & Sciences University Physician Assistant program, graduating in 2001. My first job was in orthopedics surgery, found I love orthopedics, but really did not like orthopedic surgery: standing in one place for long hours holding body parts, hardly ever talking to a patient! I left and returned to my great-grandparents home of Lebanon, Oregon, to practice with two marvelous docs: Harry Brink DO and Rich Evans MD. I was also hired by Samaritan Health Physicians to be the first full time provider for the Linn County free clinics. As much as I loved this job, Samaritan Health Physicians had different ideas for me which did not agree with my desire to practice. I contacted Oregon's Office of Rural Health and asked them to find me something primary care, east of the Cascades and rural. They did! I was hired by White River Health District Board of Directors for a concrete foundation on a bluff! No building! The building was soon delivered, but was not designed with a medical clinic in mind. Even the dentist did not get exactly what he requested. So we started remodeling before we could even open. Two very busy months later, Deschutes Rim Clinic opened for business on September 4, 2007.
I took over as District Manager in November 2008 after the then manager and board chairman left the organization. South Wasco County encompasses a good sized portion of Wasco County. We are the only medical organization here and have a very small tax base with which to operate. The only other providers of medical care in South Wasco County are two volunteer ambulance organizations who do not have any funding base. As a result I have worked diligently trying to build our White River Health District to be able to recruit more primary care and specialty providers. This will require a larger building as staff is already sitting on top of each other. A lot of my efforts now are toward that end as I will need to retire in the next few years and I want to build a medical community which will sustain South Wasco County long past my time.
During the past 11 years I have been both the (sometimes only) provider and district manager, providing health care in the office, patients homes and skilled nursing facilities, and becoming an advocate for rural health. In that role I joined and am currently the President for Central Oregon Independent Practice Association (COIPA), where the focus is on contracting, credentialing and how to stay independent in a practice. I have sat on the Health Council for the Columbia Gorge Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) at its inception, and continue to participate in the Clinical Advisory Committee of the CCO,
In 2018 I was awarded Oregon Office of Rural Health's "Hero of the Year Award."
In 2019 I was awarded the Karen Whitaker Knapp Service Award by the Oregon Health & Sciences University Physician Assistant Program.
In November 2019 my position with the District has changed and I am now managing the Foundation business.