OHCA Oregon Caregiver Spring Summer 2020

The Oregon Caregiver SPRING/SUMMER 2020 www.ohca.com 24 PROFILE response to COVID-19. I am very vocal about ensuring that as we reopen, the public health of our communities remains a priority. It is critical that we build an infrastructure with enough personal protective equipment, testing, and contact tracers. Last session I fought for increased access to telemedicine. However, because of the walk-out, we were not able to pass any of those now critical bills. I’m hopeful that we are able to address this issue in the special session, and, when we do, I know my colleagues will be familiar with its value because of my advocacy last session. It was true before the pandemic, and it’s even more clear now that we must ensure all Oregonians can access healthcare providers. This crisis has impacted every segment of life in Oregon. It has also brought to the forefront preexisting challenges in the health care sector, for example the workforce shortage in long term care. What lessons will you take from the pandemic in Oregon? I have served my community on the frontlines during many crises including in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and 9/11 in NYC. I can tell you from experience that every crisis highlights issues and problems that are plaguing our communities. As a legislator, I plan to help create legislation to address these issues. For example, COVID-19 is widening the deep disparities that cause suffering for the most vulnerable among us. Recovery will require an integrated, collaborative effort of public, private, and nonprofit sectors to support the work of local and state governments. I believe the solution lies in an integrated and collaborative public health system. I hope we can use this moment as an opportunity to train those out of work and address our workforce shortages in long term care facilities. I hope we can work with our local community colleges and private companies to train workers. Moving forward we will have to address how we maintain a supply of personal protective equipment to always be prepared for a pandemic so we can protect all community members. What do you see on the horizon for Oregon as we enter a likely special session, a general election, and the next legislative session as a fundamentally different state than we were just a few months ago? From the state budget to health care policy to Medicaid, what priorities will you bring to these conversations over the next year? Each agency has been tasked to make budget cuts. As legislators we will have to make those very hard decisions and ensure we don’t cut resources where they’re needed most. We have an opportunity to thoughtfully consider what we believe in as leaders and reset how we invest our resources. We need to prioritize healthcare, and make sure that it includes essential services like mental healthcare. We must prioritize investments into prevention and care and never forget the vulnerable among us as we make these decisions. I will always advocate for the need to think upstream including asking questions like “What can we do now that will prevent human suffering and expensive policy hurdles in the future?” Finally, in challenging times, people often look to leaders for inspiration and hope. What does leadership in these times look like to you? Who embodies that approach? I think strong leadership comes from listening with compassion, especially to people with opposing views. A good leader learns about people’s needs and struggles and synthesizes their own experiences and knowledge to reach a solution. Representative Mitch Greenlick, who recently passed away, embodied this type of leadership. He fought until his last day doing what he loved, tirelessly working to improve access to healthcare for all. Like Mitch, I will strive to lead with integrity, courage, and empathy, and I will carry his legacy of fighting for everyone to have access to healthcare. » POLICY MAKER PROFILE, CONT.