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Here is my story, and why I am running for Oregon House District 33.
No one in my family had ever gone to college.
My childhood in a resilient community taught me about the power of people looking out for one another. The power of a community. As a child, I didn’t have much kindness in my life. Our mom was struggling with depression and anger issues. It was my good fortune to find a neighbor, Joan, who had children of her own and plenty of love and patience to go around. Joan was a grounding force in my life for the next ten years, and her daughter was my best friend. In 5th grade, my teacher asked me where I wanted to go to college, and I didn’t know what that was. No one in my family had ever gone to college. At that moment, I decided I was going to be a doctor one day, and never looked back.
My community, inclusive of government support, has given me the opportunity to succeed in life.
When I was 16, I got a union job at an Albertsons grocery store where I earned a good wage and full benefits. I was able to leave home and work my way through the rest of high school, college, and into medical school with that same job. My community, inclusive of government support, has given me the opportunity to succeed in life. I am running for office because I want to do all that I can to be sure each and every Oregonian gets the same shot that I got to achieve my dreams.
I take care of the sickest patients in the hospital.
Now I am a pulmonary (lung) and critical care doctor, working at Kaiser Permanente. I take care of the sickest patients in the hospital, people on life support, people with COVID19. We are all working hard to understand this pandemic while treating desperately ill patients, and it has changed everything. People are losing their jobs and their health insurance in the midst of a public health crisis. It is clear our system is broken, and needs frontline healthcare providers in Salem to help fix it.
In the clinic, I take care of people with breathing problems, things like asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. Asthma exacerbations are more and more common. What’s going on with that? It’s our air quality. House District 33 has the worst air quality in Oregon and it is making many of us sick.
These kids are growing up with an existential crisis.
I am also a mother, and that’s the most important job I have. My husband Rob and I have a 16-year-old and 13-year-old. These kids are growing up with an existential crisis, concerned the earth won’t be healthy enough to raise their own children. Add to that the stress of doing active-shooter drills at school, and it’s no wonder our children have incredibly high rates of depression and anxiety. Many of us have received text alerts that our kids are at school in a lockdown. It is terrifying, and exacerbates every fear you have as a parent.
The last straw was the Kavanaugh hearings.
I was working as the Chair of the Northwest Permanente Board of Directors when I heard the testimony of Dr. Blasey-Ford at Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. Having gone through something very similar to what she described, I was overwhelmed with anger, and a feeling of powerlessness. I believed her. That’s when I decided to take action: I submitted my application the following week for Emerge Oregon, a program that teaches pro-choice, progressive women how to run for Democratic office. I am deeply grateful to have been accepted, and I graduated from the program in June, 2019.
We know what our policies are doing to our patients.
Here’s what we do every day as physicians: We knock on an exam door, many times the patient on the other side is someone we’ve never met, and we make a connection. People don’t trust you if they don’t feel a connection with you. Physicians are privileged to have the opportunity to make a deeply meaningful connection with people every day as part of their job. We take social histories, getting to understand what home life is like. We come to understand how our government’s social policies are affecting our patients. I see, firsthand, the financial and emotional toll health crises take on families. We must address this impact in a meaningful and equitable way. Paid Family and Medical Leave was an important policy passed in 2019 to help families. There is much more to do.
Universal Healthcare is on the docket for 2021.
Healthcare reform is my first priority. Universal Healthcare is on the Oregon docket for 2021. Who is going to write that? Mitch Greenlick will have retired and he has been our healthcare expert for nearly 20 years. My experience on the Northwest Permanente Board of Directors gave me the skills and experience in policy, governance, and leadership, to be the healthcare champion Oregon needs. One-third of the legislature has an education background. But only three legislators are healthcare providers. Twenty-seven percent of the state budget, the biggest line item by far, goes to healthcare. This pandemic has illustrated very clearly that the system is broken. We need healthcare providers in the legislature writing that policy, because policy thrives or dies in the details. I am a detail-oriented, strategic, pragmatic implementation specialist. I will help make sure we get this done right.
Even if you don’t live in HD33, the decisions I will help make on healthcare will impact all of us in Oregon. Please consider joining us at #TeamMaxine and help put a doctor in the House!
One of my missions is to help Oregonians attain a healthcare system that is affordable, accessible and high-quality for the long term. This will require focus on the causes of harm to health . . . including substandard housing and poor quality education… Dr. Dexter understands this most clearly. Her leadership will prove instrumental.