Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
October 15, 2010 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS and OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

The change we are making

"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
~Andy Warhol

Regular readers of the Friday message know that I start it with a quote that summarizes the theme of the week.

This week, I have an embarrassment of riches for good quotes thanks to a new website launched this week that will provide regular status reports on our progress transitioning to the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority.

For the site we talked to DHS and OHA employees to get their thoughts on the coming change and they agreed to share their stories. You can read them yourself here. www.transition.oregon.gov

For example, here's what Rhonda Prodzinski of CAF says:

"The new DHS will be able to focus on what we do best - delivering services to people who need help in their neighborhoods and communities."

She's right. And over the past several months we have made great strides forward in completing the work necessary to make the transition to two agencies. We are right on schedule and have moved from the planning phase to the implementation phase. Several key decisions have been made, including finalizing visions for the new agencies and their proposed budgets. Also decided is how our administrative services will be shared and how we will manage the work between our two agencies.

For most of the shared service offices, the changes will not be dramatic and they will continue working with the programs and people they are working with today. You can find a full list of the shared services on the new website. Over the coming months, we will continue to refine how services will be organized to fit the needs of both agencies, and I will keep you posted as to how that progresses. We will also continue integrating the Office of Private Health Partnerships, the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, the Public Employees' Benefit Board, and the Oregon Educators Benefit Board that now fall under the Oregon Health Authority into the agency structure in a positive way.

"Transitioning our work to OHA provides an exciting change for PEBB," says Brian Olson, of the Public Employees' Benefit Board. "We will continue to be focused on what we have been doing - moving forward with our contracts, focusing on quality, and holding contractors responsible."

Additionally, one thing I have been personally proud of is that we are creating the two agencies in a way that doesn't require new resources and does not duplicate services. We are reconfiguring the two agencies, not recreating them. That is the kind of thinking and spirit we must continue to bring as we move forward. In fact, we have no choice. Not only are we making this change during the most difficult economic period in recent memory, we have set a standard in both our agencies of efficiency, effectiveness and innovation.

I am not alone in thinking that.

"I believe that transition and transformation occurring at the same time allows us to be active champions of positive change, change that will make us more efficient for the vulnerable populations that need us," says Sudha Ramakrishnan, Seniors and People With Disabilities, DHS. Hers is another story you can read on the new website.

And of course, we have both the moral and economic imperative of reforming our health care system to improve people's health, make health care affordable for all, improve access to care, and increase the quality of care while emphasizing prevention and above all, focusing on population health. That's what we'll be doing through the Oregon Health Authority.

"The change means more efficient use of taxpayers' dollars to cover more people, a more efficient delivery system, and more efficient health care for Oregonians who need it," says Roger McGraw, Budget, Planning and Analysis, Division of Medical Assistance Programs, OHA.

I want to thank the hundreds of people in DHS and OHA who over the past year have contributed to this transition while balancing the demands of their regular duties. It's been a lot of work but the payoff is going to be tremendous.

"We are moving in a direction that will have a tremendous impact on the way we serve Oregonians," says Oliver J. Vera, Healthy Kids Program, OHA.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

DHS on the web