John Huffman is bringing more than 22 years as a small business owner, including marketing and promotion in broadcasting, to his new position as community outreach director for Mid-Columbia Medical Center.
“I couldn’t think of a better-prepared candidate to serve in this important community liaison role,” said Duane Francis, president and chief executive officer for MCMC.
“John has deep roots in our community, both as a business owner and legislator. He knows a lot of people, is well respected and does a great job bringing people and organizations together who can help each other. He is going to take our community outreach efforts to an even higher level.”
Huffman, who resides in The Dalles, said the part-time job — 20 hours per week — will involve coordinating internal reports on charitable giving from different departments within the not-for-profit organization.
“Millions of dollars are being spent by MCMC to help uninsured community members get care and to teach people about preventive measures they can take to protect their health,” he said.
In addition, Huffman will be involved in public relations, getting the word out about programs offered by the hospital and medical specialties available to patients.
His resume includes 22 years of owning and operating Mid-Columbia Broadcasting, Inc., and the Q104 radio station.
“This role is just a perfect fit with the years that I spent in the media,” said Huffman.
His message will center on MCMC’s investment into activities and programs that benefit families in the region.
For example, the hospital’s Community Benefit Report for 2014, the last year that figures are available, shows that more than $500,000 was expended in 2013 to help area health care professionals further their education and gain on-site experience.
Huffman said many residents are probably not aware of the long list of MCMC’s contributions to area communities, which include:
• Ensuring that all patients have access to high-quality healthcare, regardless of ability to pay. In 2013 alone, $2.8 million of free treatment was provided by MCMC medical staffers. Another $6.8 million in value was spent on patient services not covered by Medicare and Medicaid programs.
• Protecting student athletes in Wasco, Sherman and Klickitat counties from injury. Trainers from MCMC Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Surgery donated a value of $408,801 in 2014 to cover high school events and care for injured players. Two hundred free sports physicals were given to District 21 middle and high school students.
• The Planetree Health Resource Center in The Dalles, which enacts the hospital’s philosophy of patient-centered care, provides free lectures for people with diabetes and other chronic diseases. These forums center on nutrition, exercise and other proactive ways that community members can improve their quality of life.
• Support groups are available for the encouragement of cancer patients, those recovering from a stroke and people trying to lose weight.
• Mentoring and internship programs have been implemented by MCMC to train existing and future care providers, such as nurses, pharmacy technicians, medical assistants and child care providers.
• Celilo Cancer Center is one of the rare small providers to offer patients access to clinical trials that are investigating new treatments that show potential for improving existing methods of care.
• More than $423,538 was spent in 2013 on workforce development activities in partnership with the Columbia Gorge Community College nursing program.
Huffman said MCMC also donates to nonprofit groups based on the volunteer hours of employees.
He said the list of organizations that benefit from these human and financial resources is long, ranging from the Dufur Threshing Bee to Community Meal, Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee, The Dalles Theater Company, and many others.
“Health care in Oregon is a huge undertaking,” said Huffman, a Republican who has served in the Oregon House of Representatives since 2007. His District 59 includes more than 63,000 people living in western Wasco, Wheeler, Jefferson and northern Deschutes counties.
“In case people are wondering, I’m going to continue my work in the Legislature,” he said. “We have a few doctors and dentists serving but, by and large, most of House and Senate members are in other fields. I think the position with MCMC will provide me with more insight to bring into policy discussions involving the health care industry. It will allow me to fully understand what rural health care needs are.”
He said the state invested $19 billion into the Oregon Health Authority for the current biennium, which underscores the huge expenditure involved in helping medical providers meet the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.
When votes are being cast on the House floor that could financially benefit MCMC, Huffman said his conflict of interest will have to be declared, something done orally in committee and on the floor, as well as in writing.
Although there is no process in place to allow elected officials to opt out of a vote, Huffman said the statement will be put on the public record to ensure transparency in governance.
With a large district to cover, and the new job, he expects life to get hectic during legislative sessions.
However, he said Francis has granted him enough flexibility in fulfillment of his duties with MCMC that he isn’t worried about neglecting constituents.
“It’ll be very, very busy but I’ve always owned my own business and put in a lot of hours — a 40-hour work week is something I’ve never known,” said Huffman.