Now, That’s Dedication!


It’s a season of celebration at Columbia Basin Care, where we’re honoring three employees who have dedicated their careers to Columbia Basin Care:


Maintenance Assistant
30 years

“I do a little bit of everything,” says Forest Cline, whose can-do disposition has led to a 30-year career at Columbia Basin Care.

He joined Columbia Basin in 1987 when he was just 19 years old. His mother worked as a bookkeeper at the facility, and he was hired to work in the kitchen. Realizing his skill with tools and machinery, Cline moved into janitorial and maintenance work — where he now plays a critical role in keeping systems running and people happy.

From waxing floors to wheelchair repair, Cline is a jack-of-all-trades. You’ll find him painting, bringing plants to life in 100-degree heat, and then cheerfully chatting with residents.

Over 30 years, Forest has seen a lot of changes and he’s proud to be a part of the improvements, from renovations to equipment upgrades to increased professionalism. But always, he says, it’s the people that matter most. “The important thing is the residents, and keeping them happy.”

julie-kimbell-1JULIE KIMBELL
Certified Nursing Assistant/Medication Aide (CNA/CMA)
29 years

From an early age, Julie Kimbell felt the pull to help others. She channeled that passion into nursing and joined Columbia Basin in 1988 — 29 years ago.

She provides hands-on nursing care, assisting residents with bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and more. “It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do,” she says, “but it’s the most rewarding,”

She is both a certified nursing assistant and a certified medication aide and though she’s considered moving into a leadership position, she prefers the individual care and attention her current role allows.  “As a CNA, I get more resident interaction. I can make their lives better while I’m here, while they’re here.”

“You have to love people,” she says, as she shares a laugh with a resident. “You’re important to their lives. You make a difference.”

janet-final-lightenedJANET SULLIVAN
Medical Records Manager
28 years

Janet Sullivan has worked at Columbia Basin Care for 28 years. She joined the company in 1989, and has hands-on knowledge of nearly every department. She’s worked as a certified nursing assistant, human resources director, activities director, and accounts payable. She is now the Medical Records Manager.

Organized and tidy, record management seems a perfect fit. “I like order,” says Janet. “I love to purge charts. It’s like cleaning a dirty floor and you see how nice and clean everything is when you’re done. “

But her work is more than just data. Her fondness for the residents of Columbia Basin Care is the driving force of her dedication. “I go home and I worry about them because I care about them,” she says. “You’re not just taking care of them. You’re taking care of them, their family, their emotions . . .”

Working in long-term care is not for everyone. “You must be a team player, have a heart, and be a hard worker,” says Janet. “You must be completely willing to get your hands dirty.”

Executive Director Fosters A Positive Environment



What do you want to be when you grow up? And if you’re doing it, what did you do to get there? How did you know it’s right for you?

The number of opportunities after graduation feels limitless to many students. But opportunity can also feel daunting. How do you know that your passion and abilities will translate to the real world? For many students, that answer lies not in the classroom, but in the community, where it takes the form of internships, research, service learning, and global and leadership opportunities.

It’s through these activities, dubbed Experiential Learning, that students are exposed to people and circumstances different than their own and through which they discover the relevance of learning – and more about themselves.

Public health alumna Aubree Olmstead, BS ’15, experienced this firsthand. In her final term, she completed a required 360-hour internship at Columbia Basin Care, a skilled nursing facility in The Dalles, about a half hour from where she grew up in Hood River.

For Aubree, the internship wasn’t just another box to check. “I looked at it as a chance to see if I liked the field and to hone in on my skill set.”

“I tell students to be open to all possibilities,” says Karen Elliott, who teaches a pre-internship course and assists in helping students find internships throughout the state and sometimes internationally. “When you stop thinking about a grade or credits and ask yourself, ‘What do I want to do?,  you discover amazing things about yourself, what fuels your fire and what gets you going.”

Aubree took that advice. The first Beaver alum in her family, she also credits professors and instructors, including Karen, who brought their passion and real-world experience to the classroom.

A little over halfway through her internship at Columbia Basin, Aubree was offered an Administrator in Training (AIT) position – 960 hours of training under the supervision of a preceptor – with the understanding that she would become administrator after completion. During that time, she worked to gain a diverse understanding of operations, covering areas such as leadership and management, quality of care, human resources, finance, and the physical environment.

The 22-year-old successfully completed both her internship and AIT and has served as executive director since May 2016, managing 100-plus employees in the 90-bed facility.

“My roles tie directly into what I studied while at Oregon State,” Aubree says. “I truly believe my education and degree gave me a competitive advantage and the knowledge I need to ensure I am successful as I move throughout my career.”

That’s music to Karen’s ears. “It’s truly rewarding to see students excel and be involved in this process that can be life changing,” she says.

To ensure that all students get this same opportunity to succeed, the college initiated a series of changes in 2015 that began with the creation of its Office of Student Success.That change transformed the academic advising office into a hub of services that support students, including study abroad, career and professional development, peer advisors and an internship coordinator. The team, led by Associate Dean for Student Success Vicki Ebbeck, is working to increase the college’s number of experiential learning opportunities, including new experiences in the Dominican Republic, Bangalore and Botswana. These experiences add to its existing programs, such as with Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, the longest faculty-led program at Oregon State.

Experiential learning promotes student success, Vicki says. “Research shows that students are more likely to persist with their studies and improve their academic performance, and that every student benefits – especially historically underserved students. The key is to engage all students in these high-impact practices that can be transformative.”

Aubree’s advice for current students is to see college and the path after graduation as an opportunity for growth. “Look outside your comfort zone, explore options, set goals, value your time, identify a role model or mentor and take chances,” she says, “but most of all respect yourself and those around you.”

She puts her advice into practice daily, whether it’s overseeing departments, managing employees, staying within budget, working with local hospitals and physicians, or staying on top of a stream of new rules and changing regulations.

“There is always something to be learned and something to be improved upon,” Aubree says. “I enjoy working with diverse groups and finding ways to encourage, lead and manage my staff. Knowing what makes them ‘tick’ is important, and I think that’s what excites me most. Fostering a positive environment truly creates increased success and happiness all the way to those we interact with and have the opportunity to serve.”

— by Kathryn Stroppel. Republished from Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.