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Radiation Medicine program establishes clinical partnership in Coos Bay

Charles Thomas, MDCharles Thomas, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Medicine, was honored recently for his role in building a partnership with Carl Jensen, MD, the sole radiation oncologist in the coastal community of Coos Bay.

Dr. Thomas was nominated by OHSU’s Director of Clinical Outreach, Mark O’Hollaren, MD, for a Golden ROSE Award.

A recent survey by the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Medical Association found that one in five Oregon physicians will retire within five years. This statistic, compounded by the already critical shortage of rural physicians, compelled Dr. Thomas and his OHSU colleagues to find a creative solution to the fact that Dr. Jensen was contemplating leaving Coos Bay due to professional burnout. He said he felt isolated due to the fact that he did not have colleagues to regularly confer with.

Dr. Jensen and a team of radiation therapists and oncology nurses at Bay Area Hospital provide care to about 30 patients daily. Without Dr. Jensen, Coos Bay patients would have to travel much greater distances for radiation treatments.

The Radiation Medicine physician faculty established a connection with Dr. Jensen in order to preserve these essential services for Coos Bay patients. One week every quarter, Dr. Jensen and OHSU Radiation Medicine faculty members swap practice settings. Dr. Jensen comes to OHSU for a professional change of venue and high-volume interaction with colleagues at the premier, state-of-the-art practice facility in the Pacific Northwest, while OHSU faculty members have the opportunity to experience rural practice and contribute to the Coos Bay program.

Charles Thomas, MD“I’m honored to be recognized today,” said Dr. Thomas. “This partnership wouldn’t be possible, though, without the support of my colleagues, including Drs. Fuss, Holland, Hung, Kubicky, Marquez, and Wang, as well as Mr. Tom Heckler and Ms. Tricia Thompson. So I’d like to thank them for being open to the idea.”
In his nomination letter, Dr. O’Hollaren praised the success of Dr. Thomas’ efforts, which support people, service, quality and growth, each pillars of OHSU’s mission of service excellence.

“The experience has been completely rejuvenating for Dr. Jensen. He not only decided to stay in Coos Bay, but explains that the experience and connection with OHSU has both increased his practice enjoyment and had a positive effect locally,” wrote Dr. O’Hollaren.

  • Martin Fuss, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine
  • John Holland, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine
  • Arthur Hung, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine
  • Charlotte Kubicky, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine
  • Carol Marquez, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine
  • Samuel Wang, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine
  • Tom Heckler, CEO, Faculty Practice Plan, Senior Associate Dean of the Clinical Practice
  • Tricia Thompson, Administrator, Department of Radiation Medicine


Pictured: (Top) Dr. Thomas receiving a Golden ROSE award in July; (Bottom) Amy Wayson, OHSU Vice President and General Counsel, and Dr. O’Hollaren congratulate Dr. Thomas on his award

Photography by Marisa McKenney

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