With a focus on building and strengthening community partnerships, Oregon Health and Science University convened the 2014 Tribal Gathering that brought together OHSU faculty and staff, and members of the 43 federally recognized tribes in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
While the event was a collaborative effort, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Native American Employee Resource Group led the charge in planning and executing details.
OHSU was pleased to welcome leaders and members of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB), who engaged in strategic and constructive dialogue toward collaboration and opportunity. Many OHSU leaders, faculty and staff learned more about NPAIHB's work in directing legislative and policy analysis, providing training and technical assistance, and research. The board houses a tribal epidemiology center (EpiCenter), several health promotion disease prevention projects, and is active in Indian health policy. For years, NPAIHB has worked collaboratively with OHSU researchers and faculty on projects that focus on health care delivery, education, and the elimination of health disparities. NPAIHB executive director Joe Finkbonner, R.Ph., M.H.A., and Chairman Andy Joseph underscored the importance of cultural competency when working on health care and research programs with the Native American community.
Norwood Knight-Richardson, M.D., M.A., M.B.A., Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Diversity Officer, highlighted the importance of continued communication between the Health Board and other members of the Native American community. The goal is to arrive at mutually agreed-upon plans and objectives to end health care disparities among Native Americans.
"The meeting was a wonderful opportunity to share fellowship and common plans, aspirations and even hope. This gathering helped forge collaborations, and provided opportunities for developing partnerships in teaching, healing, discovery, and community service," says Dr. Knight-Richardson. "We are eager to move toward continuing the dialogue with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, and identifying concrete ways to work together in addressing our common goals."
At the Tribal Gathering, OHSU Provost and Executive Vice President Jeannette Mladenovic, M.D., M.B.A., conveyed the university's commitment to addressing health and healthcare disparities among Native communities. School of Medicine Dean and Executive Vice President Mark Richardson, M.D., M.Sc., M.B.A., and Senior Associate Dean George Mejicano, M.D., M.S., addressed innovations and developments of the medical curriculum transformation, and likely impacts on underserved communities.
It was also illuminating to hear about OHSU's work in addressing needs underserved Native communities. Presentations by Drs. Tom Becker, Antonio Baptista and Miles Ellenby highlighted current partnerships led by OHSU's Center for Healthy Communities, the Institute of Environmental Health, and the OHSU Telemedicine Network.
Dr. Knight-Richardson is eager to move toward formulating a strategy that is actionable. He says an important next step is to discuss and prioritize targeted actions with OHSU stakeholders. As OHSU moves forward with strategies to continue to engage the Native community, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion will keep you updated on the progress of tribal collaborations. Moreover, when another tribal gathering is convened in the future, we hope that you will join us.
By Maileen Hamto, MBA, Diversity Communications Manager