James “Judge” Hicks, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, was honored by Bank of America on Nov. 19 as one of their five 2009 Local Heroes from the Portland/Vancouver area for his work with Project Access NOW. Dr. Hicks has been involved with Project Access NOW from their start and was the founding chair of its board of directors. “Judge has been really important in helping us find our way,” Linda Nilsen-Solares, executive director of Project Access NOW, said. “His belief in the organization was instrumental in making it happen.” Dr. Hicks was nominated for the Bank of America award by the Project Access NOW Board of Directors and staff. The award includes a $5,000 grant to Project Access NOW.
Project Access NOW (www.projectaccessnow.org) opened its doors in March 2008 and has enrolled more than 2,500 patients. More than $7 million has been donated in care, Nilsen-Solares said. According to Dr. Hicks, the organization serves as the coordinator of care for its patients, “allowing them to walk through the medical system with dignity.” The idea is to have the commitment to care for the patients in advance, and then to tap into it when needed. “When a patient meets the guidelines,” Dr. Hicks said, “we give him a card, which is a passport into our system for a specific diagnosis.” With thousands of physicians in the area signed on, including all OHSU specialty clinicians, this process helps ensure equity, so not just a few people are providing the care.
Dr. Hicks stepped down as chair of the Board of Directors this year, but remains on the Board and is focusing his efforts on fundraising.