The Imperative for Change
During state emergencies, many vulnerable people within the state’s care become displaced, leaving their loved ones in anguish and causing lapses in critical healthcare. Before our work with the State of Oregon’s Aging & People with Disabilities program, paper maps and binders full of spreadsheets were the primary tools used to coordinate statewide emergency responses. But with many potential single points of failure, these manual systems required stringent oversight to prevent life-altering mistakes. One long-time employee named Marsha kept track of all emergency materials, maintaining meticulous records and overseeing response coordination for years. But that meant in times of chaos, the fates of thousands of at-risk Oregonians lay in her hands.
Marsha was responsible for coordinating disaster relief resources for 47,000 nursing home residents across 2,100 licensed facilities, in addition to 20,000 in-home patients. During any given emergency, she could be seen shuffling through piles of paper, cross-referencing spreadsheets and consulting her binders full of maps to identify which facilities needed aid most urgently. The state’s desire to digitize meant that one day Marsha could finally feel comfortable retiring. Together, we began working to implement impactful technology that would not only save peoples’ lives but also ensure that when Marsha left, the people of Oregon were in good hands.