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Tribute To Lake Health District Ceo Gordon Ensley

Rep. Greg Walden

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a long time community leader in the heart of Southern Oregon, Gordon Ensley.

On June 30th, after a career in health care spanning 38 years, Gordon retired as Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Health District in the great town of Lakeview, Oregon. In 1996, after 11 years at another small town hospital in Gold Beach, Oregon, Gordon and his wife Pauline moved to Lakeview so he could serve as the Lake Health District Chief Financial Officer. Then in 2003, Gordon took the helm as Chief Executive Officer, and under his leadership the health district's local hospital, long term care facility, and home care and hospice programs, have experienced tremendous growth and improvement.

Most of Lakeview's 3,000 residents, whether they have encountered Gordon as an employee, patient, colleague, or friend, are likely to agree about the positive impact he has made on their community. This included one of Gordon's crowning achievements, a 10-year project to expand and upgrade the hospital. Gordon and his board knew this project wouldn't be without its obstacles, but nevertheless began work on a plan to find additional finances, which included a plea to the community to support an $8 million bond. In 2008, voters agreed that improving overall patient care and access was a worthy investment, and approved the ballot measure to help finalize a 33,000 square foot expansion and upgrade to the hospital.

Mr. Speaker, even with this achievement, Gordon still understood the struggles associated with providing health care to rural patients. Most areas within Oregon's Second Congressional District are as rural as you can get, and access to a health provider can be difficult. Lakeview is no exception, but fortunately for this community and its surrounding areas, Gordon embodies the dedication and vision that is necessary to provide quality care and improved access. All this, however, and Gordon will be the first to say that while working in the rural health care field offers its challenges, it presents even greater rewards.

And as we develop policies in Washington, D.C., it is crucial for Congress to do so only after seeking the advice of on-the-ground experts like Gordon and those like him. Fortunately, he has always been more than willing to take time out of his otherwise busy days to offer his valuable expertise, and he has never been afraid to get in touch with me to express his concerns. Whether discussing pending legislation, burdensome federal regulations--on which Gordon has certainly made his position known--or even sometimes non-health related issues, I have greatly appreciated his expert guidance and useful counsel over the years.

So as Charlie Tveit, the Lake Health District's new CEO, takes over, he begins on the solid foundation laid under Gordon's strong leadership. And while I know Gordon had reservations about leaving his post after so many dedicated years of doing what he knows best, I think all of those who know him, most notably his wife Pauline and their family, would agree that he has earned a well-deserved break.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing Gordon's many years of service to his community as we wish him a long and happy retirement.