Media Room

Remarks as Prepared

Governor Kate Brown
College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest – Governor’s Address
Friday, May 31, 2019

Good morning, and thank you to Dean Crone for that generous introduction.

I am so honored to deliver the governor’s address to the class of 2019, congratulations! We are so proud of all of you.

WesternU COMP Northwest has impressed me as a truly special place.  And I’m not just saying that because my niece is among today’s graduates.

This is a place where, through a potent mixture of caffeine, adrenaline, and perspiration, you are transformed from a regular person to a doctor of osteopathic medicine.

The way forward is illuminated by this noble calling: to preserve and improve the life and health of people.

In a moment, you all will recite the rest of the osteopathic oath. You will promise to accept each of your patients as a part of your family - for years to come.
You promise to protect fiercely their secrets. Like family.

And you promise to meet people where they are at, rather than where you wish them to be. Like family.

Your charge is greater than simply to “do no harm.”

It was the founder of osteopathic medicine Andrew Taylor Still who said, “To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.”

Your training has taught you: sitting on that crunchy exam table paper is a whole person - someone with a job, a family, with their own worries and dreams. Maybe they come to you in pain. Maybe they carry scars from a complex past. But they come, as all human beings do, seeking hope.

For the future.

For themselves.

For their loved ones.

They are looking at you.

You depart these halls today into a world that desperately needs your brains, your energy, and your dedication to create a more ethical, compassionate, and inclusive world.

Health care is a huge part of that.

Take your classmate Amir.

Amir knows firsthand how strong the mind/body connection can be, as he was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy. His condition made childhood activities like playing soccer or riding a bike nearly impossible.

But Amir did not allow cerebral palsy to define him.

He turned to music. Playing the piano not only fed his soul, but it improved his manual dexterity, giving him the tools to persevere through his physical limitations.

The compassion he felt for others came from his own experience. It inspired his decision to transition from software engineering to osteopathic medicine.

He realized that healing the whole person, rather than just relieving pain, can be the difference between surviving and thriving.

“You realize,” he says, “that your service has made them feel comfortable and satisfied. That their life is a little bit better because of you.”

These special moments define a career. They make life beautiful and worth living.

Amir told me, “Medicine is not just about curing patients but, more importantly, it’s about listening and caring.”

We live in a series of moments rocked by political upheaval and uncertainty. But when I look around this room, I see a light in each of you.

I see your goodness, your determination to heal, to repair, to comfort. To banish despair and hopelessness. To shine your light in dark places.

It takes a special person to do this important work.

You are that person.

I knew someone just like you, someone who changed the world, one patient at a time.

Senator Alan Bates from Medford was not only a talented and dedicated osteopathic physician, he fundamentally changed healthcare in the state of Oregon.

Senator Bates was tireless.

Each week during the legislative session, he would work late on Thursday, then drive four hours back to Medford to see his patients first thing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning. And then on Monday, he’d drive back to Salem and do it all over again.

In the legislature, he was everyone’s doctor. If you were sick, you talked to Doc Bates.

Like all of you, he was in the business of caring for people. He believed that quality healthcare was about relationships, not just providing a service.

At the end of an appointment one day, just as he was heading out the door, one of his patients happened to mention that she was having a little shoulder pain. He turned around immediately and gave her his full attention. In the 30 years he’d known her, she had never complained. Something was wrong.

He wasted no time. Turns out, she had an aortic aneurysm that would have killed her had it not been addressed immediately.

He knew to investigate because he knew her.

During Senator Bates’ last years at the Capitol, Oregon was in a recession. Deep cuts to the budget for the Oregon Health Plan would leave hundreds of thousands of Oregonians without healthcare.

Bates worked tirelessly to avoid that. He collaborated with legislators from both sides of the aisle to pass a bill which created the Coordinated Care Organization or “CCOs,” which provide health care services to Oregon Health Plan patients.

Under the old model, you paid a fee for each service. But Senator Bates knew that health care isn’t just about when you’re at the doctor, it’s about when you’re not at the doctor.

The CCO works to mend the gaps in the healthcare fabric and stitch them together.

Like the patient in Curry County who popped his stitches two days post-op by chopping wood. The CCO model made it possible to deliver him enough wood to last the winter, so he could heal.

Preventive care is easier, cheaper, and smarter. And providers drive the system, be it a nurse, physician, or dentist.

In addition to being the right thing to do to serve patients, the CCO model saved taxpayers an estimated $2 billion over 5 years. The number of ER visits has plummeted, and the number of prenatal visits has jumped to 95%, which is unheard of.

There is no question that one person, one dedicated person with good ideas, can change the world.

Senator Bates was that person. And so are you.

Senator Bates showed us that a doctor can be many things--but most importantly, he showed us what can be done when we pay attention. When we listen to each other.

When we care for one another.

So go out there and relentlessly inflict good.

Looking out at your faces, I see pride, hope and yes, immense relief. And I am reminded of Oregon’s motto, “She flies with her own wings.”

Class of 2019, you stand on the edge of the nest, wings outstretched, sun on your face. The winds are in your favor. You are strong. You are ready to leap into the blue.

So, fly. Soar. Be the brilliant and talented healer you were meant to be. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Congratulations and good luck.

I now am honored to introduce my friend and mentor, Governor Barbara Roberts, to deliver the commencement keynote address.

Throughout Governor Roberts’ long career in public service, her leadership has helped make Oregon a better place.

As Oregon’s first woman governor, she was a strong supporter of public education, handicapped rights and services, environmental management, and streamlining of state government.

I have been so fortunate to benefit from her mentorship, wisdom, and advice for more than two decades. Please welcome the Honorable Barbara Roberts.