For 19 years, Sally Isham has been quietly serving the health needs of women in Hood River County.
According to Ellen Larsen, director of Hood River County public health and Isham’s supervisor, the dedication, expert care and compassion Isham has given her patients has not gone unnoticed.
“Sally was awarded the Vivian O. Lee ‘Clinician of the Year’ award at the Region X Reproductive Health conference,” said Larsen. “We are very happy that she was recognized for her work.”
The annual honor is given to only one clinician providing women’s health and family planning services across a four-state region. Isham was nominated by fellow nurse clinician Terry Rundell, of the Klickitat County Public Health Department.
Trained as a registered nurse, Isham undertook additional specialized training in family planning after the Nixon administration implemented Title X funding for reproductive health services in 1970.
“I see a lot of women who can not afford care anywhere else,” said Isham, who typically has seen 16-20 patients a day during her years of full-time work. She has cut down to part-time now, but was very clear that “the need for these services has not gone down.”
“Sally has provided a wonderful opportunity for lower income women to receive excellent women’s health care,” said Larsen. “She has made some diagnoses that would have been delayed if not for her care.”
In family planning nursing for more than 24 years, Isham has worked to insure women without insurance or financial resources could receive top-quality care in women’s health.
“I’m a preventative medicine person. Without this care, we would have many more people going to the E.R., many more unintended pregnancies, and many more abortions,” she said.
Raised on a cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon, Isham is used to hard work, and now finds herself fitting five days’ worth of patient visits into three.
“I’m the only one here doing this care right now,” said Isham, who remains committed as always to her calling.
“Sally is always warm, open and caring with everyone,” said Larsen. She identifies and works well with all kinds of people and all ages.”