Portland Cascade Chapter
(Last Updated 2005)
The Portland Cascade chapter started meeting as the “Oregon Chapter in formation” in 1990 and was awarded the chapter charter to be officially known as the “Portland/Cascade Chapter” in November of 1993. The formation of this organization was largely due to the dedication of the first President, Gwen Riggins, RN, ACRN, Patricia Farrell, RN, John Calcagno, RN and Elizabeth Dennis, BSN, ACRN. Gwen currently sits on the board and is the chapter’s longest running member.
Gwen Riggins was given the very fitting “angel award” for her volunteer activities at the Cascade AIDS Project. Gwen has been involved since the early 90s giving talks to local agencies about HIV, being involved in community events and supporting the PAL training program. The Certificate of Recognition from ANAC for many years of service was awarded to Gwen in June of 2004. Each year, Gwen has held a position on the board of ANAC until this year. The highlight of her career, however, was receiving the ANAC Masters Fellowship in HIV Nursing in 2003. She even sang at the awards banquet—she has an amazing voice.
Brian Taylor has been a pivotal member of the Cascade chapter having been on the board since 1994. Brian currently works as the lead nurse at the Multnomah County HIV Clinic and has been doing so for 15 years. Brian has been in a position at one of the busiest clinics in Portland to see the changes in care and needs for some of the hardest to reach clients. Brian also provides oversight to the Northwest AETC (AIDS Educational Training Center) on site HIV nurse training program.
The Cascade chapter is very consistent in providing on going education for nurses and health care workers in the Portland area as well as a place for members to get together. These dinners are informal and afford networking between agencies in Portland and may include discussion of the latest problems, valuable contacts and, hopefully, solutions. Educational dinners are open to anyone interested in HIV issues and have included Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, AIDS educators, Pharmacists, Case Managers, prevention and Oregon Health Division HIV members and local as well as international students. The openness of the dinners has created an inviting atmosphere and, as a result, membership is increasing at a time when programs are being cut.
Since 2001, the increase in national membership has risen 200%. In addition, our Board Members at Large has doubled. We feel that the continued interest is a result of the chapter’s enthusiasm and leadership in the community. Leading the Portland chapter as President since 2000 is Toni Kempner, RN, ACRN, CCRC. Toni became a member in January 1994 and has been a leader in HIV care in Portland particularly making a mark in the research community. Toni put the Cascade chapter in lights last year and went on television to teach about the components of HIV research. The program was taped by IFARA and distributed statewide. In addition to authoring two ANAC publications, she has been elected to be a national member of the ANAC Speakers Bureau for 2005-2007. She is an expert in teaching and managing Fuzeon, being Roche’s sponsored consultant and educator, as well as a member of the National ANAC T20 Expert Panel. In addition, Toni is a national/rural adherence counselor and has been a consultant for the Oregon Health HIV Division. Finally, Toni is a dedicated mother of two who is looking forward to passing off her President duties in the fall of 2005. We have been lucky to have such a dedicated and research oriented nurse at the helm of our chapter who has created a solid foundation to move forward.
In the wake of the state cuts which have continued to chip away at the Oregon state Medicaid fund, our chapter answered with direct support for clients who were unable to pay for medications. In 2003, the Cascade chapter worked in conjunction with a grant from Roche Pharmaceutical and purchased coupons in $10 increments which could be used by any HIV + person who was struggling to pay for medicine. These coupons were made available to HIV case managers in the community and served many people as well as increased awareness of ANAC in the HIV care organizations in Portland. To date $1500 in coupons have been distributed representing 150 PLWH/A who have received assistance for either medication co pays or for non-covered OTC medication.
Cascade Board members volunteer their time, both assisting in the community with hands on teaching, as well as donating time. The PAL program at the Cascade AIDS Project was assisted by members of the board to provide training to volunteers who work with people who are HIV+ and need assistance. Board members volunteered and attended the annual Africa AIDS Response, an ongoing benefit to raise funds and awareness of HIV/AIDS in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The Africa AIDS response raises money for a medical clinic in Mutare as well as provides an opportunity to buy art made by African artists affected by HIV. Other venues that the local chapter volunteers for and offers a presence to include the Gay Pride Parade, AIDS walk, World AIDS Day booth and Camp Starlight (weeklong camp for children affected by HIV).
We face many challenges in these times of program and insurance cutes in Oregon. Our members are dedicated to the people they serve. One of our goals is to encourage new members to join our board and be more active in our chapter’s activities. We believe new energy and ideas are the key to continuing the chapter’s vibrancy and enthusiasm.
The Cascade Chapter of ANAC is a small, but a mighty force in the community. Incredibly, our board’s health care experience totals 175 years!! Together we account for over 98 years specializing in HIV care. Our focus promotes a professional awareness that this disease needs strong leadership and community and this happens by creating a forum for networking amongst local agencies. After all, our goal remains to work collaboratively to provide the best care to people living with HIV in Oregon.