Interview with Catherine Bax, PA, Healthy Climate Action Team Member

Catherine_Bax_photo.jpgOregon PSR Program Assistant Katy Morrow recently conducted an online interview with Catherine Bax, PA (pictured here), a member of our Healthy Climate Action Team.

How long have you been a part of Oregon PSR?

“I feel like I’ve always been peripherally involved in PSR. In the 70s, when living in Los Angeles, my involvement primarily consisted of participating in anti-nuke actions and Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorials every year. We moved to Portland in 1993 but I didn’t really start volunteering with Oregon PSR until about 2014 after I’d retired from Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center.”

What is your background in public health/medicine?

“In 1976, my first job after nursing school was at the United Farm Worker’s Clinic in Delano, California. Working in the clinic and being part of the farmworkers’ struggle not only for better wages and benefits, but for humane working conditions, was radicalizing for me. After leaving the UFW, I worked/volunteered at a free clinic on Skid Row in Los Angeles, another life-changing, career-forming experience. I went back to school at University of California, Davis where I graduated from the Family Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant Program. As an FNP/PA I worked for 13 years at a Federally Qualified Health Center in South Central Los Angeles and then at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center here in Oregon.”

What made you first get involved with Oregon PSR and what about the organization has made you want to stay involved?

“After retiring from Virginia Garcia, my wife Ann Turner and I were horrified by the prognosis for the planet and decided that a good place to put our energy was in the environmental movement. Marilee Dea, a long-time friend of ours and a long-time Oregon PSR activist, suggested we contact Regna Merritt at Oregon PSR. We met with her, were inspired by her dedication and her ability to articulate a clear strategy to confront the fossil fuel industry locally, and we joined up. The staff and leadership and active membership at Oregon PSR is not only effective but also welcoming, supportive, and willing to take on tough issues and opponents. I am proud to be and love being part of the Oregon PSR community.”

What compelled you to work with the team at the Oregon Justice Resource Center?

“I think someone from Oregon PSR’s staff asked for volunteers to write a letter to Governor Brown to address the public health crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic had created in the crowded Oregon state prisons by releasing individuals from the prisons. We were especially concerned about the people who are older and have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. With the virus raging in the US and especially in congregate settings, and especially in the prisons, it seemed really important to speak up for the people stuck in these crowded COVID-19 virus incubators.”

Anything you’d like to share about your work with Oregon Justice Resource Center?

“Oregon PSR and OJRC meet for an hour or so on Zoom almost every week. I am so impressed by the staff. They are all brilliant, focused, strategic, and so dedicated to helping the people who are in the prisons. I am inspired by the compassion and dedication that they bring to their work.”

Our sincere thanks to Catherine for her tremendous volunteer efforts! To learn more about volunteering with Oregon PSR, contact [email protected] today. We look forward to working with you!