Valerie Palmer


interdisciplinary Community Health & Education Exchange
OHSU Global Health Center

Valerie PalmerI am no stranger to health disparities; growing up in South Africa, we had one doctor who served a geographical area the size of the state of Oregon. The people in our community would often come to my family’s sugarcane farm to ask for help because the doctor was not accessible. When I was 10 years old, a woman brought her child of only six months to our door, dirty and very sick. I cleaned him, dressed him in fresh clothes and fed him, knowing that I had to get him to a doctor quickly. But the nearest hospital was almost sixty miles away and before transport could be found, baby Colin died in my arms. I have never forgotten him or the sick and injured we cared for, and I have been committed to making a difference ever since then.

Today, I’m making that difference through a unique community program that brings OHSU health professional students together with underserved locals, immigrants and refugees from Africa, Asia and South America. Through the OHSU Global Health Center, the interdisciplinary Community Health & Education Exchange (iCHEE) program connects students from all four schools with the communities around them, serving patient populations that might not otherwise have access to care. The students gain a cross-cultural understanding of our local community and apply that understanding to promoting quality and equity in healthcare worldwide.

The OHSU Global Health Center is a collaborative environment, building bridges between campuses and communities–domestic and international–and developing programs for students, faculty, staff and partners that promote global health awareness, research, education and advocacy. Inherent in our teaching is that global health starts here: local problems are global problems, and global problems are local problems. Please support your community–local and global–by giving a gift to OHSU today. Together, we can cultivate world-wise health care professionals who can make a difference.