Downtime with Patrick Allen

Jason E. Kaplan

Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen talks about what he does with his free time — and his hopes for Oregon

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What I am reading

The Stand, by Stephen King. Yeah, I know, pretty dark right now. But hey, humanity survives in the end and is better than it was before. I’m also reading Deep Down Dark, by Hector Tobar. It’s the story of the 2010 mine collapse in Chile that trapped 33 miners for over two months. I really enjoy reading about events I saw in the news but with the opportunity to learn the human stories behind those events.

What I am watching

We’re doing some projects around the house, so lots of home-improvement shows. The kids have now all left, and our house is showing its 20+ years of being home to an active family. After a while, you get some pretty concrete ideas of what you want to do, what you can do yourself and what you’ll need help with.

What I am listening to

“America Dissected,” a podcast byDr. Abdul El-Sayed about health care in America. Dr. El-Sayed, who is a former health director for the City of Detroit and ran for governor of Michigan, does a great job of explaining how public health works and doesn’t work for America, including our most vulnerable citizens.

Must-have gadget

My Android phone. I’ve been using handhelds going all the way back to the Palm Pilot, the Treo and the first Microsoft phone. I’m one of those people who can barely remember you can actually use them to make calls!

What I do outside of work

Reading (especially history), camping, travel. We’re going to be challenged this year for camping as most of our favorite spots have been impacted by last year’s wildfires. We’re also looking forward to some time in Hawaii in the fall. During the pandemic, I’ve also really been passionate about supporting my local neighborhood businesses, including the really great restaurants in Sherwood, where we live.

Earliest ambition

To be a high school band teacher. It’s fun to make music with a really talented group. This ambition didn’t pan out, but I lived it vicariously as a marching-band volunteer at my kids’high school.

Favorite place to vacation

Anywhere near water, but especially the ocean. The sound of surf, the birds, the visual of water always changing but still a constant, really helps center me.

Biggest extravagance

I’ve not traveled much during the pandemic, but an upgraded airline seat is worth some extra money on long flights.

Professional role model

Former Governor Tom McCall. McCall said, “Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.”

Future ambitions

To end health inequity in Oregon. This is real, and we can do it, and the pandemic has actually helped in some ways. We have new partners, new expectations from the communities we serve, and a new understanding that Oregonians don’t have the health they want if all Oregonians aren’t well served.

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