George Adams: Co-chair of the Jackson Care Connect Community Advisory Council
George Adams, 50, admits, “I didn’t really think about life when I was
able to walk. But life can change in five seconds.”
It was August 24, 1997, the last day George would walk to his car to make the
50-mile drive home from his job near Anchorage, Alaska. A long stretch of road
and a bit of sleep-deprived inattention was all it took. He woke up in the hospital
with three broken neck vertebrae from an accident that changed his life forever.
Permanently confined to a wheelchair, George now lives in Medford near his
mother and sister. The state’s Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan,
provides his medical services. His care is coordinated by Jackson Care Connect,
a local Coordinated Care Organization (CCO). Oregon set up CCOs to replace
the fragmented health system that relied on different groups to provide medical
care, mental health, addictions care, and dental services.
He could have shied away from his new reality, but George didn’t. “I understand
that life now is different,” he says. “Each person mourns loss in his own way, but
I’ve been given a second chance.”
“It was a wakeup call and I’m lucky.”
George chose to use his second chance helping others with disabilities. He was
already serving on three medical transportation committees as an advocate on
behalf of people with disabilities, when Anne Alftine, M.D., interim medical
director for Jackson Care Connect recommended him to its Community Advisory
Jackson Care Connect’s Community Advisory Council works to improve the
service that Jackson Care Connect and its provider organizations offer members.
They identify improvement opportunities and provide suggestions about Jackson
Care Connect programs. They also organize activities and projects that engage
fellow members and the community on health care issues.
Through community needs assessments, they are learning what we need to do
to make our communities the healthiest places to live, work and play.
“George brings unique perspective to the Community Advisory Council,” says
Heidi Hill, Jackson Care Connect community outreach coordinator. “He
understands that anyone can be one step away from needing the health services
that the Oregon Health Plan provides. He brings tremendous insight into what it
is like to require comprehensive medical transportation. And he is an
enthusiastic, responsible committee member.”
Because of his driving spirit and passion for advocacy, this year his fellow
committee members elected George co-chair of the Community Advisory
George’s message to the whole community is this: His experience can happen to
anyone, without warning. “We need to have the best medical systems in place
and the best care available because any healthy person can be on the receiving
end some day.”