Earlier this week I sent out a difficult message about the passing of Lynn Read, who was a colleague of many of us at DHS and OHA for more than 30 years. Her passion for bringing health care to all Oregonians inspired those around her and over the past few days those who knew and worked with her have been sharing our memories of her and what she meant to us.
Lynn's decades of accomplishment led me to think about public service and the role we have in the lives of those around us. I know that to many people we are simply part of a large, faceless bureaucracy. And I think, frankly, it would surprise those who think all we do is process paperwork or create red tape, to hear about the heart, the passion, and the outcomes that live within our cubicle walls.
Each and every one of us at OHA is part of something larger than ourselves that has a singular focus: a healthier Oregon. From those who provide direct care to patients at the state hospital to epidemiologists who are focused on the entire population. From the budget analysts who see beyond the spreadsheets to the effects budgets have on real people to those who take the direct calls from clients and help guide them to the health coverage and assistance they need. In hundreds of ways, we are all doing our part.
As we work to change the way health care is delivered in our state, this work takes on an even greater urgency and we are at a time that is both extraordinary and familiar.
The beginning of the Oregon Health Plan was another time when a group of public servants and partners in the private sector tackled the problem of how to bring more health care to more people. There were many challenges and in those days when OHP was first being put together the path wasn't always clear. It brought an entirely new way of doing business for people inside and outside the agency. Lynn was there in 1987 and beyond, a quiet, persistent leader in this movement.
Today, we are taking that work to the next level and are facing many of the same challenges. As we work to improve the Oregon Health Plan it is important to remember that there was a time when OHP was a concept on paper, and that through vision, hard work and tenacity it was turned into reality. It hasn't been an easy path and there were setbacks. Today the Oregon Health Plan serves more than 600,000 Oregonians, helping to create stability for themselves, their families and their communities. That's a legacy to proud of.