Downtime with Michael Fisher

Photo by | Jason Kaplan

The director of the VA Portland Health Care System talks about vegan Christmas dinners, health care access and swimming in the ocean with his iPhone.

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What I’m reading
I am going back to some older books: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes.

What I’m watching
I am totally hooked on Fargo (season 3), and I just finished the third season of the British comedy Catastrophe.

Must-have gadget
Definitely my iPhone. I recently went swimming in the ocean with it in my pocket. I was in a panic until I was able to replace it.downtime1

Latest download
AllTrails. It helps navigate thousands of hiking trails across the country.

No place like …
Definitely Amsterdam. I have been there three times — the museums and people are incredible. My favorite thing to do is walk the canals at sunset.

Family traditions
Every Christmas Eve, my family would have a chili supper before opening presents. I still do that today — only now it is vegan.

Notable vacation
I just spent 10 days on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever visited. Hiking the Na Pali coast was an experience I will never forget.

When I’m not working
Hiking. I love to travel, read and play tennis.

Work role model
Currently, it is Dr. James Tuchschmidt, who served as director of the Portland VA for many years. I am reminded every day of the culture he helped build at this facility, focused on a goal of clinical excellence.

Job satisfaction
My favorite part of the job is when I can get away from the computer, recurring appointments and email, and talk directly to people, whether it is staff or patients. I learn far more about the organization when I do this.

The American Health Care Act
I have not been following the details closely enough to render an opinion. I try to focus on health care changes that directly relate to veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

How to improve patient access to the VA system
The right staff are key. We are focused on recruiting the most qualified, patient-centric health care providers and ancillary staff to
provide services. It is a competitive environment, but I believe we have the most rewarding mission here at the VA. I cannot imagine working anywhere else.

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