Pamplin Media Group – Legacy Mount Hood crafts community of care

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After two years in heart of pandemic, leadership commits to providing quality health care for all neighbors

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Bahaa Wanly, Tanya Shanks-Connors, Holly Tse and all of the hundreds of people working at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center are dedicated to providing community care. A 33-year veteran of the health care industry has seen firsthand the power of having doctors and nurses who serve the communities they call home.

Tanya Shanks-Connors, Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center’s chief nursing officer, was in the intensive care unit when she met one of the nurses going above and beyond for a patient. The two happened to be neighbors — their kids played together every afternoon — so the nurse had insight into the patient’s personal history and home life. That informed the care and provided better outcomes for all involved.

“Everyone here at Mount Hood cares about the community and our people,” Shanks-Connors said. “We want to help our neighborhoods move forward and be healthy.”

For Shanks-Connors the draw to Mount Hood was to be closer to her home in Sandy.

“This is my community hospital, and everyone I know comes here for care,” she said.

There is a sense of optimism about the largest health care facility in East Multnomah County — with a dynamic new team at the helm and a group of frontline workers who made it through the thick of the pandemic while never losing focus on that care for neighbors.

“We strongly believe world-class care needs to be found in a community-based setting,” said Bahaa Wanly, Mount Hood Medical Center president.

Though based in Gresham, 24800 S.E. Stark St., Legacy Mount Hood is the place for health care across the region. It serves Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village, Corbett, the Columbia River Gorge, Sandy, the Mount Hood region, Damascus and Estacada.

“You can get world-class care, right here, locally,” Wanly said.

Wanly, an Oregon native, has a deep understanding of the region’s health care needs. He was raised in Corvallis and comes from a family of health care providers. His parents were architects who built, among many things, hospitals.

He joined the team at the beginning of the year because he was drawn to those community roots. And he brings nearly two decades of health care leadership with him.

“Legacy Health is about serving all people, and Mount Hood Medical Center is home to the most committed team members I’ve ever seen,” he said. “They give their all every day.”

Prior to his new role, Wanly served as chief operating officer for Salem Health Hospitals & Clinics and as a medical group administrator for the University of Washington Medicine Health System.

Joining him in leading Mount Hood Medical Center is Holly Tse, who was hired for the newly created chief medical officer role. She describes the position like an Oreo cookie — she is the filling that connects two cookies on either side, the folks at Mount Hood and the people at the main Legacy Health center.

“I represent the voice of Mount Hood and make sure their ideas and concerns are heard by the larger organization,” Tse said.

She has been with Legacy since 2018, where she first started as associate medical director with Legacy GoHealth.

She served as the medical director for Legacy’s medical home program, where she provided clinical leadership for 150 primary care physicians with Legacy Medical Group. She developed a clinical “best practices” program focusing on screening, prevention and chronic disease management.

She also contributed to Legacy’s pandemic response by helping to develop and teach new COVID-19 protocols.

“I am thrilled to take on this exciting new role with Mount Hood Medical Center, where the team is outstanding, and so is the care they provide for the community,” Tse said. “Legacy Mount Hood is truly a special place.”

Luckily, as that Oreo filling, Tse hasn’t had to shout too loudly for Mount Hood to be heard, as the medical center has long been touted as one of the most innovative within Legacy’s system. The medical center offers advanced care and expertise in robotic-assisted surgery, cancer treatment and gastrointestinal care. It was the first hospital in Oregon to perform robotic-assisted total knee replacement and it is renowned for its outstanding stroke care.

During the onset of the omicron variant of COVID-19, Mount Hood had staff outdoors testing so as not to clog up the main hospital building.

“With each new variant we were on the forefront with coming up with new solutions,” Tse said.

While the past two years have been anything but smooth sailing for the medical center, all 800 members of the staff are committed to keeping the doors open.

“We are going full-steam ahead and giving care to those who had to have elective surgeries deferred these past months,” Tse said. “Our goal emerging from the acute phase of the pandemic is for Mount Hood to be stronger than ever.”

The medical center is doubling down on hiring a diverse array of staff to match the communities they serve, and in the next five years will be adding and improving options for those age 40 and over — the largest growing group of people in Gresham.

“We are going to continue to be a part of the fabric on the east side,” Wanly said.

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