OHSU Will Never be Silent in the Face of Adversity

Dr. Joe Robertson also released figures showing phenomenal growth over the past 11 years.

Without mentioning President Trump by name, the president of Oregon Health & Science University expressed dismay at the immigration policies he’s put forward at a luncheon attended by more than 200 policy wonks, legislators and employees at the Portland Art Museum yesterday.

“The social and political turmoil compels me to talk about the core values and the beliefs of OHSU, which will not change despite the changing landscape — and believe me, it’s changing,” said Dr. Joe Robertson, who was adamant OHSU would never be silent or take a partisan stance.

Robertson said OHSU brings together the best and the brightest from around the world, and intends to continue working with everyone so Oregonians have access to healthcare, which he called “a fundamental human right.”

“We need to serve as an example,” Robertson continued. “We don’t exist in a world apart. What’s happening is creating a world of fear, which is anathema to public health. Public health is based on trust. Fear is countervailing.”

Robertson also introduced Dr. David Bangsberg, dean of the new OHSU-Portland State University School of Public Health, who was recruited from Harvard University.

Oregon, like elsewhere in the nation, faces pressing public health challenges – obesity, depression, substance abuse and suicide, and Bangsberg called upon leaders to deal with the racist and willful violence impacting people’s lives. “If we can take HIV out of Africa, we can tackle the same challenges at home,” he said.

Bangsberg and his wife have donated $100,000 in scholarships to support public health students, at the new PSU/OHSU partnership program, and he encouraged the audience to follow their lead.

OHSU Growth

OHSU has grown mightily over the past 11 years, giving the institution an emboldened role in Oregon’s healthcare future, according to the latest figures released by Robertson.

For example, OHSU’s operating budget reached $2.8 billion last year, a 461 percent increase from 1995, while its award dollars grew by 353 percent during that same time period, at $389 million.

Here are a few other statistics:

  • OHSU treated 290,194 patients in 2016 compared to 112,000 in 1995, representing a 159 percent growth, while total patient visits, including hospital and medical/dental clinics came within 7,000 of reaching the one million mark.
  • In 2016, OHSU had 2,899 enrolled students, and just 1,795 students 11 years earlier.
  • Its gift dollars took a strong upward turn, $835 million compared to just $26.5 million in 1995, representing a growth rate of 2.296 percent.
  • The number of employees at OHSU more than doubled in the past 11 years reaching 15,642 employees compared to 6,600 in 1995.
  • And its capital expenditures soared to $216.7 million, a 261 percent growth from 1995 when OHSU only spent $60 million. Today, OHSU encompassed 96,000 square miles, with expansion showing no sign of slowing down.

Diane can be reached at [email protected]

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