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Mission Statement

ORPRN's mission is to improve health outcomes and equity for all Oregonians through community partnered dialogue, research, coaching, and education.

Diversity Commitment

ORPRN is committed to building and sustaining a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist organization. We do so by evaluating how we develop and support our workforce, the partnerships we uphold and how we engage in community-partnered dialogue, research, coaching and education throughout Oregon.

Message from Nancy Elder, ORPRN Director

Building an infrastructure today will foster sustainability into the future

Nancy Elder

I have a calendar of fat bears on my wall from Katmai National Park in Alaska. Katmai is home to thousands of brown bears who have become world famous from Katmai’s Bear Cams and the annual Fat Bear Week , hosted every fall when the bears are plumping up for a long winter. Months later, they emerge from their dens in the spring a mere shadow of the fat bears they once were. During hibernation, they rely solely on their fat reserves; survival depends on eating a year’s worth of food in six months.

You might be wondering what fat bears from Katmai have to do with ORPRN. Well, ORPRN’s survival depends on successfully writing several years’ worth of grants and contracts over a few short months (or weeks). We rely solely on success with these grants to pay staff and conduct all our research, projects and educational programs. Sometimes, just like the bears catching salmon in the river, we are abundantly successful, and other times we have to keep trying again and again because we just can’t seem to “catch” anything.

Luckily, over the past five years, significant numbers of our grants and contracts have been funded, allowing us to double in staff and produce some amazing work. Just a few highlights include the Accountable Health Community Innovation award from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare in 2017, which screens patients for social needs and connects them to navigators, a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute award in 2018, which addresses advance care planning, and a Beau Biden Moonshot Award from the National Cancer Institute in 2019, which expands Fecal Immune Testing in rural settings to reduce colorectal cancer. Additionally, this year we are offering 33 ECHO telementoring programs, including three funded by a 2021 Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program award from the Health Resources Services Administration.

Even with all this success, there is one thing we can’t easily fund with grants and contracts: infrastructure. As we’ve grown larger and our research, education and improvement projects have increased, so have our infrastructure needs. How ORPRN will sustainably fund our needed infrastructure is a key question the organization is now addressing. We are working with our advisory board to explore options such as philanthropy (ORPRN has a fund at the OHSU foundation that ALWAYS accepts contributions large and small) and other mechanisms that support infrastructure.

While infrastructure doesn’t incite the same thrill of the bears catching salmon in the river, it more closely resembles the behind-the-scenes work to keep the river free of pollutants and habitat destruction. At ORPRN, it is our administrative and leadership support that sustains the organization and keeps us focused and functioning across projects and time, so that we may continue to make a difference in the health of Oregonians. Thank you for your continued support of ORPRN and the work we do.

— Nancy Elder, M.D., M.S.P.H.