It’s been two years since Serene Perkins, M.D., joined MCMC as our
chief medical officer. A surgical oncologist by training, Dr. Perkins
brought with her extensive experience in patient care, surgical education
and administrative leadership.
Prior to joining MCMC, Dr. Perkins served multiple roles at Legacy health
in Portland, including medical director of hepatobiliary and pancreatic
surgical oncology and director of surgical and clinical research at Legacy
At MCMC Dr. Perkins is a key member of our executive leadership team.
WellAware sat down with her recently to discuss the pandemic, health care
and how MCMC continues to expand to serve our community.
What has it been like being the chief medical officer of a hospital during
A: Our caregivers—doctors, nurses and all of the other practitioners
who are taking care of patients—have had to confront an unprecedented
level of complexity while dealing with such a severe illness. As chief
medical officer at MCMC, it is an honor and a privilege to work with such
exceptional and dedicated individuals and watch the incredible job they
do every day.
At the same time, my heart goes out to the patients and families whose
lives have been affected by the virus. While these are certainly unsettling
times, I know that if we continue to stand together, we will overcome
While the pandemic is still very much with us, it is still important for
people to continue to see their doctors and not neglect their care. How
can you assure people that going to their doctor is safe?
A: Over the past eight months, we have learned much about COVID-19, how
we can avoid its transmission, and its clinical course and recovery period.
At MCMC we screen every employee as they come into work. We screen our
patients before they enter their doctors’ offices, and exam rooms
are thoroughly cleaned after every patient. In many ways, coming in for
office visits and surgery is safer now than it has ever been. However,
we do see patients who have postponed care for a number of reasons. It
is very important that our patients do not postpone routine screenings
or procedures to avoid the risk of their conditions getting worse.
MCMC has introduced telemedicine as a way for patients to safely see their
doctor. How has that gone, and what do you see as the future of telemedicine—both
nationally and here in the Gorge?
A: We have been exploring the option of serving our community through telemedicine
for some time. Over the past several months, we have tried multiple platforms,
looking for the one that would be easiest for both patients and providers.
Our goal is to ensure it is a positive experience and one that works well.
If you have an internet connection, or even a phone if you are less tech
savvy, telemedicine can be a wonderful option.
What was the impetus behind the opening of the Immediate Care Center, and
why is it so important having that care available here in the Gorge?
A: When an urgent health care need arises, Immediate Care is here for you.
While taking care of your immediate need, we can also help you get established
with a local primary care provider who you can see on a regular basis
for routine care, annual checkups, health screenings and many other health
care needs. For those patients who already have a primary care provider,
Immediate Care is a great option for when you need after-hours care or
if you have trouble getting a same-day appointment with your PCP.
Mid-Columbia Medical Center has really become more of a local health system
and not simply a stand-alone hospital. Can you talk about that a bit?
A: Yes, MCMC is much more than a hospital on a single campus. We have 15
outpatient service lines to provide comprehensive health care for our
community—from pediatrics to cancer care, cardiology to sports medicine
and everything in between. We have outpatient clinics in The Dalles and
hood River and ancillary programs such as a medical fitness center and
therapy services at Water’s Edge. MCMC has been the community’s
center of health for more than 100 years, and we continue to evolve as
our community’s needs change and grow. It is important that people
can get the care they need when they need it, in ways that are most convenient
for them and fit their lifestyle.
Nobody can predict the future—especially not under the current conditions.
But what would you like the community to know about MCMC as we turn into
2021? What does the future hold for the hospital and for care here in
A: It is our goal at MCMC to serve you, our community, not only in 2021
but for (at least) the next 100 years to come! We are so thankful for
each and every one of our staff, providers and leaders who stand by this
community through thick and thin. One day we will all look back upon this
time in history with wonder. I am grateful to be a part of it.