Alyssa Sutton

The Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center recently named three new members to its board.

Cindy Denne from Baker City, Dr. Mike Hetrick of La Grande and attorney Sadie Kennedy from Wallowa County have joined nine other members on the board, which is responsible for developing financial support for the organization and advocating for the educational needs of health care providers in Eastern Oregon. Members commit to a three-year term, with the option to renew their membership for one more term.

“The NEOAHEC Board of Directors is a diverse group of community-minded individuals who represent our 11-county region,” explained Meredith Lair, NEOAHEC executive director, in a press release. “Members have a unique background that has drawn them to service on the board and belief in our mission. They give generously of their time and financial resources, and have no shortage of energy to help bring along the next generation of health care providers.”

Denne has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and retired as the clinic manager for Eastern Oregon Medical Associates in Baker City. During her 13-year career with the organization, she served as a contact for the NEOAHEC coordinating placements for rotating graduate students at her medical facility.

“I used to be very involved with medical students and the recruitment of physicians and providers, so I’m really excited to see what we can do,” Denne said in a press release.

Now retired, Denne is a ski and snowboard instructor at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort and a gymnastics teacher in Baker City. She is also a volunteer, making periodic medical mission trips to Honduras and currently serving as a member of the Baker County YMCA Board of Directors as well as her newly appointed position on the health education board.

Dr. Hetrick, who served on the Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center’s initial advisory board more than 25 years ago, is currently the chief medical informatics officer for Grande Ronde Hospital.

His medical career began after working with the Peace Corps in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his humanitarian efforts inspired him to pursue a profession in pediatric medicine. Following the completion of a bachelor of arts at Cornell University, a medical degree at Ohio State University College of Medicine and pediatric resident training at Columbus Children’s Hospital (now Nationwide Children’s Hospital), Hetrick served as a pediatrician in La Grande for 35 years before retiring to his current position.

“Health education has always been an integral part of the practice of medicine as I have known it, both for providers and patients,” Hetrick said. “I see my participation with the NEOAHEC Board as a way to remain in closer contact with the community and also to use my previous professional experience to continue my involvement in health education.”

He added that he will be working to stay aware of the region’s needs for health care and will factor those needs into the board’s health education initiatives.

Kennedy graduated from Wallowa High School and attended Eastern Oregon University where she earned a bachelor of science degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She later earned a Juris Doctorate degree at the University of Oregon School of Law and currently works as an attorney in Wallowa County under La Grande’s Baum Smith LLC.

Kennedy said an outgoing board member recommended that she look into joining the organization.

“I’m very invested in the community and it was important for me to return to the community,” Kennedy said. She explained that, as a lawyer, her biggest challenge is that she is not a participant in the medical field.

“I think (being a member of the board) will provide me with some learning opportunities as well,” she said.

“NEOAHEC is proud to welcome Sadie Kennedy, Dr. Mike Hetrick and Cindy Denne,” Board Chair Bret Uptmor said in a press release. “These new members’ commitment to our community is well-recognized, and we look forward to the assets they bring to our team.”