2018 ‘Hearts of Gold’ honorees share visions for a healthier Gorge

To truly have a heart of gold, you must put others above yourself. For its 2018 Hearts of Gold celebration, the Providence Hood River Foundation will honor two community members whose golden hearts shine brightly.

Award categories include Community Member and Health Care Provider. After sifting through the nominations, the committee chose winners who both work tirelessly to create a healthier future for families in the Gorge. This year’s recipients are Robin Henson, M.D., known for her work in women’s healthcare, and Coco Yackley, engineer and founding member of the Columbia Gorge Health Council, a nonprofit that partners with Pacific Source to operate the Columbia Gorge Coordinated Care Organization (Gorge CCO).

An evening to honor both Henson and Yackley is planned at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn. The Hearts of Gold celebration is open to the public. In addition to honoring the award winners, guests will be treated to an evening featuring a cocktail reception, live music and a gourmet meal. All proceeds from the evening benefit the 3D Mammography Campaign supported by the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Foundation.

MARCH 3 DINNER

A limited number of tickets are available at $85 each and sponsorships are available. Call 541-387-6242 to purchase tickets.

Henson’s work creating the Providence Women’s Clinic was a vision to create an atmosphere with great care by engaged specialty providers focused on women’s health needs. Henson became the medical director for Providence Hood River later in her career and recently retired from actively practicing. She helped recruit many of the physicians currently serving patients in Hood River.

In addition to her practice, surgery schedule and delivering babies, Henson was instrumental in getting the Columbia Gorge Health Council’s Clinical Advisory Panel up and running to help guide clinical transformation in the Gorge CCO. In this group, she helped move the region forward on population health initiatives including chronic disease management and care of children in state custody. As a professional, she used her skills to mentor others and made an impression on other doctors by helping them advocate for their patients, always presenting a calm nature and sharing her experience, said a press release.

Henson describes her efforts in mission work in Guatemala as part of the Providence Health International group as some of the most rewarding experiences of her career. In addition, she mentors kids in the high school ASPIRE program, focused on college applications.

With a similar passion of working to help others, honoree Coco Yackley was a driving force behind the nationally recognized Columbia Gorge Health Council and its leadership role in health care reform. An engineer by trade with a degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and 20 years of experience with Intel, Yackley is most interested in creating systems that really work for those that use them. This shines through in her work advocating for Medicaid recipients and other low income or vulnerable members of our community. She truly cares about their experience using our local health care system, said the press release.

Yackley helped create the first regional Community Health Assessment, which has become one of the foundations of grant-writing work that has brought $6 million dollars in grants back to the Columbia Gorge. She knows that establishing metrics and experimenting with new and different ways to care for populations can improve care and patient experience, as well as earning incentive payments and national recognition.

Yackley grew up in a blue-collar home on the East Coast and was the first in her family to attend college. Things don’t always come full circle, but she was driven to use her experience growing up in a household of unemployment, free lunch programs at school and uncertainty about the future to focus her efforts on making sure others don’t experience any lack of knowledge about health care or education access.

For both winners, working with others to promote health in the community is a priority. Yackley said about her work in the Gorge that “collaboration is the new normal.” These Hearts of Gold honorees live by the belief that health care systems should provide the same care for all people, no matter their situation.



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