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2021 reflections

Dear Public Health colleagues

On behalf of PH leadership, happy 2022. Admittedly, I was hoping that when I wrote this brief note, I described a transition, recovery and/or healing phase in our professional and perhaps personal lives. I do believe that elements of recovery or transition are certainly in play though certainly we are not monolithic in the way we are experiencing and coping with this prolonged crisis. For me, I seem to have more questions than answers at times and still trying to make sense of it all. I hear I am not alone in this feeling. I am still committed to writing my personal narrative around what has transpired since March of 2020. However, I am realizing that perhaps my narrative might be written in chapters as the book might not be ready for publication for a while:).

In terms of 2021 and our division, I observed and experienced resilient teams which continued to adjust to developing realities and remained a beacon of hope to and voice of our communities, especially the most vulnerable.

- I experienced it with our Healthy People and Families teams, led by Pamela, Laura, Toni and Kelly, which delivered efficient and quality tele-health services and prioritized in-person services to high risk or new clients. I saw it with our front desk staff who graciously handled high volume of calls and interactions with our often (understandably) anxious community members. I also observed it with the roll out of the Family Connects initiative despite the many hurdles along the way.

- I experienced it with our Community Health teams, led by Tom, Jessica, Eric and Aimee, which partnered with businesses and schools, among others, to build system capacity and resilience. I saw it with our Environmental Health team which significantly contributed to keeping our local economy running. I saw it with our Ryan White team which continued to assure/provide a comprehensive system of care and services to marginalized groups. And I observed it with the roll out of Healthy School initiative (formerly known as Youth Success Program) under Jessica’s and Aimee’s leadership.

- I experienced it with our Advancement and Protections/ COVID teams, led by Rita, Kathy, Emily, Crystal and Adrea, which were faced (and continue to be) with alarming trends in STDs, communicable diseases, opioid/substance use, outbreaks and of course COVID cases, as well as drops in immunization rates, diagnostic testing and outreach efforts for obvious reasons. I saw it with our relatively small, core COVID team which managed an ongoing surge since summer while led and supported the roll out of boosters and pediatric vaccination. I also experienced it with our teams filling technical gaps in the tri-county region (as though they didn’t have enough on their plates already) because it was the right thing to do.

- I experienced it with our newly-established Clinical Services team (formerly known as Reproductive Health) under Anne’s leadership which navigates an often sensitive landscape to provide essential RH services to our communities. I saw a team, like many others, that when the door closed, it climbed through the window, and when the window closed, it broke through the wall because a challenge was never too big or insurmountable despite being short-staffed all of 2021.

- Finally, I experienced it with our also newly-established Data for Action team comprising Sarah Hutson (behavior change communications, joined end of 2020, currently on maternity leave- congrats), Shana Falb (diversity, equity and inclusion, new position, joined fall 2021, deployed to COVID team), Jaclyn Alfaro (quality improvement and more, joined fall 2021, deployed part-time to COVID team), Carissa Heinige (emergency preparedness, officially joined late fall 2021, deployed to COVID team, expecting in Jan- congrats) and Adrienne Hoyt (Epidemiologist, technical lead for Data for Action, joins on Jan 3, 2022). This team was put together in an effort to build foundational capacity for our division and organization, and it’s already paying dividends, for example, with the roll out of Central Oregon Vaccine Confidence Coalition (recognized by the State/ CLHO) under Sarah’s leadership and Modernization 3.0 under Tom Kuhn’s leadership (Tom wears multiple hats:)).

Above observations are not meant to be exhaustive and inevitably and inadvertently I left out names and programs. For that I apologize in advance as acknowledging you and your work is important to me.

What is remarkable in all this and perhaps goes unnoticed is that more than 50% of our current makeup of PH leadership was on-boarded in the last 9 month, a few filling vacant positions, and the rest reclassified and filled new positions which speaks to our growth.

As we wrap up 2021 and enter 2022, I want to reiterate that I and the leadership team continue to reflect on how we can be the best version of ourselves and be deserving leaders for you. You are important to us, you matter and we will continue to find (new) ways of letting you know.

Happy new year and Go Bucks,


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