Oregon Health & Science University is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic financially stable and with a dedication to addressing systemic racism in health care and society, the OHSU board of directors heard during a quarterly meeting Friday, Sept. 24.
“OHSU has weathered the pandemic with less damage than we originally feared,” said Lawrence Furnstahl, OHSU chief financial officer.
Highlights from the virtual meeting include:
- Financial stability: In the spring of 2020, OHSU cut expenses and reduced salaries as part of an effort to reduce hospital capacity due to anticipate demand from COVID-19. Following the board’s adoption of a $3.88 billion operating budget for the fiscal year beginning in July 2021, Furnstahl reported Friday that the financial situation remains stable despite the current severe strain on hospitals statewide due to the surge of cases from the highly contagious delta variant.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: The board heard about numerous efforts underway at OHSU to meet our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization grounded in trauma-informed principles. Derick Du Vivier, M.D., M.B.A., senior vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, reported that OHSU is delivering on the promise by so far hosting more than 50 community vaccination clinics in partnership with local organizations. OHSU’s Vaccine Equity Committee is focused on education, outreach and advocacy to improve vaccination rates among communities of color, young people, people who are houseless and Medicaid recipients.
- Student learning: Despite the fact that COVID-19 shifted students to remote learning in most cases, the board heard from the Provost’s Office that students surveyed actually liked one aspect of learning that may continue post-pandemic: Recorded lectures enabled students to more easily review material.
- Antiracism efforts: In the wake of racial injustices in 2020, in addition to the fact that the pandemic highlighted existing disparities in health care among communities of color, the OHSU/Portland State University School of Public Health reported a series of new initiatives to dismantle systemic racism. “This year, we are welcoming the largest and most diverse student body in the history of both institutions,” said Dawn Richardson, M.P.H., associate dean for social justice.